Truth Leads To Anger And Anger Leads To Apathy (Why Christians Don’t Evangelize)May 26, 2010
I want to talk about Christians who perhaps think they know Christianity 101, and think they understand the gospel message of Scripture, yet do not want to share any of its offensive parts. They only want to share its “happy” parts. It’s easy to tell someone “Jesus loves you”. Whoo hoo! He does?! It’s about time someone does!
Take any point of the good news of the gospel. In other words, take any good of the good news whether it be love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, eternity, heaven, etc. It’s very easy to tell people about these things. However, it raises the blood pressure to think about the alternatives to these things. If God does not love you he hates you. If there’s no grace there is no salvation from sin, if no forgiveness there is judgment, if no mercy there is wrath, if no heaven there is hell, etc. The reason the gospel is good news is because it offers hope out of a bad situation. Because we’re all in a bad situation, the good news shows us how we can enter into a better situation. What is the bad situation we’re in? It’s simple. The bad situation is that we’re bad!
John 3:16 “for God so loved the world that those believing will not perish but have eternal life”.
Those who do not receive Christ will perish. That is bad news. But the good news is that there is an opportunity to not perish and have eternal life through Jesus Christ. The gospel message entails good news against the backdrop of bad news, yet we are not poised to share the bad news. Thus, we deprave people of the real gospel by withholding part of it and it is never known comprehensively by dead zombie sinners who need to hear the comprehensive message! It is the full message which God uses to grant dead and Christ-hostile sinners hearts of flesh in place of their heart of stone so as to then love him and serve him. If you claim to be a “Christian” and you don’t even embrace the full gospel message, then you may not even be a real Christian! Gal 1 says twice that any other gospel means eternal condemnation. Yeah, it’s kind of important. It’s more important then favored “Jesus loves you” mantras.
Yes, the gospel, even though it technically means “good news”, requires us to share the bad news so that the good news will be realized as good. Thus, the good news is then really good news and not just said to be “good news” which is really just “vague news”. It’s “good” against the backdrop of the “bad”. Namely, what sinners deserve is God’s eternal wrath due to our lawlessness (not loving God and others perfectly). The bad news does not magically make the good news good. The good news is good in and of itself. But the bad news does help us realize, appreciate, and understand the good news for what it is. And that’s what’s needed in evangelism to the lost AND what is needed in every believer’s life if they are to worship God in spirit and truth.
Rom 1:16 “God will judge men’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.”
But again, as I said, the “bad news” scenario of the gospel is offensive and we aren’t all that willing to share this part of the gospel with unbelievers. We give them the second half of the gospel and that’s it. We give them the happy-happy joy-joy part and leave it at that. But the second half will not be understood unless the first half, the ooh-ouch-that-hurts part is also understood. We think we’ll just “Barney them” into being a Christian. We’ll just “Richard Simmons them” into becoming a believer. We think “if only we smother them with ooey-gooey wuv (love) and allow them to see how overtly optimistic we are then they’ll want to become a Christian.” We act like we don’t need the full gospel to save them. We don’t need the real gospel to save them. We’ll just distort and over-emphasize a portion of it and leave it at that.
We think if we present a part of the gospel in a sexy way, while remaining apathetic to the rest of it, it will start a “revival”. This is considering that to most modern evangelicals a “revival” equals “large gatherings of people”. Give me a break. This is so silly because the prophets in the OT weren’t interested in large gatherings and shared hard truths. The same with the apostles. The same with Jesus! And you know what? Now that you look back on what they all proclaimed, aren’t you glad they were faithful enough to share the fullness of truth without apologizing? Aren’t glad they didn’t care about pleasing men but pleasing God? That way you yourself would be able to hear God’s message and have the opportunity to believe and repent? Then why are we to be any different when it comes to sharing the full truth?
So moving on, here’s the crux of what’s on my heart. Here is some wisdom on the matter. Sharing truth with people will cause people to become angry. That’s right. I’ll say it again. Sharing truth with people will cause them to be angry. We often don’t want to share offensive truths of the gospel simply because we don’t want to make people angry! Giving people a reason to be mad does not coincide with our politically correct society. The mentality now is that we must avoid all offenses because if someone is offended then we’re committing the greatest eeeeevil act imaginable.
We shouldn’t cause anyone to feel shame. We should be ashamed if we cause someone to feel shame. We also have self-esteem issues in the 21st century like never before in history. It’s gotten out of hand. Everyone is depressed, in therapy, and on Prozac. Everyone is trying to be the solution to the problem of discovering meaning and curing depression, not by looking towards Christ who is truth (which sets us free), but by stroking each others ego so much which eventually explode because their so full of the wrong crap.
Anyways, going back to what I was saying, we all want to be liked by people. It’s human nature. We don’t want to be confrontational. We don’t want to deliberately step on people’s toes. We realize that people are turned off by that kind of stuff. Why would God want us to frustrate people? Surely God just wants us to make everyone as comfortable as possible and give them back rubs right? The unbeliever’s day was going so well until that dang Christian built up the nerve to share the truth with them. They we’re enjoying suppressing the truth in unrighteousness so much until we came along and proclaimed the gospel. What’s wrong with us selfish truth-tellers?! Surely God would rather us not tell the truth because it makes people too uncomfortable and would rather prefer that we just not share His truth and help people hide their guilt. This is the part where Jesus would say “get behind me Satan.” God’s people are to share God’s message.
But when people hear the truth that they are sinful and will be judged by a holy God, their natural response is to be angry. Even if the Christian says it in the most polite voice the unbeliever will still be angry because the truth challenges our pride and shakes our false sense of security. Therefore, I can hear Yoda saying, “truth leads to anger.” So for the Christian, because truth leads to anger it also then leads to our apathy in preaching the fullness of the gospel because we bow down to our social norms which try to shame us for causing people shame.
So then Yoda would continue, “truth leads to anger (unbeliever’s anger) and anger leads to apathy (Christian’s apathy in sharing the truth).” But is it always wrong for someone to feel shameful? No. Not if they’ve actually done something shameful, and God’s Word says that we’ve all fallen short of God’s glory. All are with sin. All have worshiped false gods. All have been jealous. One sin is enough to separate us from God for eternity. Since we’ve all done shameful things before God, then it’s good to feel shame about this. If we didn’t then we’d still just be trying to hide our shame, rather then letting it be exposed by Christ, the one who is perfect and the only one who can help us.
Also, realize that you’re not doing anyone’s soul a favor by being scared that their blood pressure might raise. “But if you talk about offensive topics such as what their sins are, how Christ is the judge, how he requires perfection, and anything less than perfection means eternal wrath and separation from him then no one will want to have anything to do with Christianity! They’ll think you’re just a big jerk.” My answer to this is, “why in the world do you think they would think you’re a big jerk for sharing these hard truths if you THEN reveal to them how Christ supplies everything God demands so we don’t have to and if we repent and believe in Him then there is no judgment, only grace and love?!”
You really have no argument here. Mentioning Christ balances the bad news and the good news. The gospel isn’t supposed to just leave people feeling miserable. It’s supposed to make them feel personally miserable about their sin, yet also offer personal hope in Jesus Christ. The gospel is simultaneously the most pessimistic and optimistic message possible. It must be both or it’s not the true and full gospel which is the power of God unto salvation. Also, if it’s not both then it’s not the message by which God will receive the pinnacle of His glory out of this Universe.
If you cringe at me saying that we must share the bad news of the gospel to people, then it may be because you’re filtering what I’m saying with your own bad experiences. You hear me saying, “only share the bad news” because maybe that’s what your blood-vain-in-the-neck-popping relative once did. Ditch your filter and listen. I’m saying we must share BOTH the bad news AND the good news.
Don’t even bother to call yourself a Christ-follower (Christian) if you’re not going to bother to share God’s comprehensive gospel. If you’re not sharing the gospel at all, then you’re wasting your time. If it’s not the full gospel then you’re wasting your time. If you’re only talking about sin, judgment, and hell, then you’re wasting your time. If you’re only talking about Jesus dying for our sins then you’re wasting your time. If you’re only talking about God’s love then you’re wasting your time! Just know, cherish, and proclaim the full gospel! That’s it! Let people know their sin is real to God. Let them know the Savior is real to them. Let the full gospel save real sinners by a real Savior.
This means you will have to count the cost of what is required to share the truth. The cost is that people may be angry. A lot of people will be angry. Yet, Jesus told his disciples to share the gospel without giving people a reason to be mad at them personally. He said to be clever as snakes and innocent as doves. We are to be the same way. Jesus is our also master and said that no one is above their master. If he was hated for sharing hard truths then we will be to. If you call yourself a Christian (a Christ-follower) then count the cost of what it is to be a Christ-follower, namely, to share the truth and not cader to popular opinion.
Yet, also look on the flip side. Rom 10 says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God”. As a result to your comprehensive gospel preaching, unbelievers will believe! In Acts 2, 3,000 people believed as a result to Peter’s comprehensive message. It was a message which entailed both the bad news and the good news. It entailed the bad news of the Jew’s sin and God’s judgment, and the good news of forgiveness through Jesus Christ. As a result to that, people became angry, yet many also believed! Take courage in that fact. God empowers the gospel to save the lost. You can be confident that God will bring great results to his kingdom, and do so through you, when you are faithful to his one and only gospel message.
Some people know they’re sinners and are ready to receive forgiveness and love. But most people are not searching for forgiveness. They are as Rom 6:8 says and are by nature indeed not able to submit to God’s law. Most are hostile to Christ and have hearts of stone. Most are not ready to receive Christ. These are the people at your job. These are the people you’re related to and are friends with. When you go to the store they are there. When you go to a restaurant they are there. Sometimes they’re even in church. They are everywhere! When they reject Christ as the only savior, Lord (Boss), and as fully God then they evidence their hostility to him, even though they may seem well. So it’s your job to reveal the comprehensive gospel to them. Again, they will get angry. Their anger may be subtle or it may be apparent.
But know that they will most likely get angry at you for sharing the truth, because that’s what the truth does. It is your job to share it with them anyways. You are not to back down from proclaiming the truth just because you’re afraid of people getting mad at you. Remember, if you’re clever and innocent in your presentation, then they’re not mad at you, just mad at the truth. They’re mad at Christ who is the truth. That’s OK. They need to take it up with him. That’s a good place for them to be. It was for you when you were at that point in your life.
In fact, you’re still at that point in your life because the truth STILL even offends the believer! Let me prove it. Scripture commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. And wives you’re commanded to submit to your husband and respect him. You see, if you’re a believer reading this, then you realize that you wrestle with these commands everyday. They go against your fleshly nature, yet coincide with your new nature of the Spirit. You see, the truth always offends those who don’t want to hear it. Yet, that doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear it!
If you’re simply not sharing the comprehensive gospel with unbelievers because you think that people will only want to receive Christ because of the “happy” parts of the gospel, then you have a profoundly un-Biblical understanding of the gospel and God’s sovereignty in salvation. Also, if you’re simply not sharing the comprehensive gospel with unbelievers because you’re afraid of being the cause of people’s anger, then remember it’s not you causing it, it’s the truth causing it.
You’re also committing idolatry if you’re not sharing the truth and are afraid it might make someone angry. That’s right. You’re making your reputation into a false idol because you are more concerned with people’s opinions about you rather then concerned with God’s opinion of you. Of course selfish sinners won’t approve of the truth you carry! That’s the point! They’re anti-truth by nature. That’s precisely WHY you’re sharing it with them. It’s precisely why Christ shared it with us. We all need it in spite of us hating it.
Also, keep in mind that you’re not to share offensive truths just for the sake of being confrontational! The prophets, the apostles, and Christ NEVER shared hard truths just for the sake of being confrontational! Leave that to some fire and brimstone freaks who never talk about Christ, but that’s not Scriptural so just seek to be Scriptural. Therefore, you’re intentions aren’t to offend but to share the full truth in love.
The reason people are angry at the truth isn’t because there’s something wrong with you or because there’s something wrong with the truth. They’re only mad at the truth because there is something wrong with them! If they had hearts of flesh instead of hearts of stone they wouldn’t get angry! If they already had a heart of flesh then they would smile, agree with you, and mow your grass for free. But unbelievers aren’t there yet. They have hearts of stone and that’s why you need to tell them the truth, even though it may make them feel this particular emotion called “anger” for a little while. Either God will save all unbelievers right now and you can choose to only talk about the good parts of the gospel, or God will not save them all right away and will use you to share the full gospel in order to save them.
Scripturally, the latter is what God has ordained. Not only do unbelievers need to know about hell, which is really just God’s wrath, but believers need to meditate on hell from time to time as well! We deserve God’s wrath. The only thing different from a redeemed sinner and a condemned sinner is a five letter word called “grace”. Even for eternity in heaven, we will never forget about hell. We will always know that’s what we would still be getting had it not been for God’s grace and mercy. This is all unto the glory of God.
But going back to what I was saying before, the unbeliever wont stay angry forever because of the truth you share. Once God transforms their stony heart and into a heart of flesh through your faithfulness to the gospel, their anger will quickly turn into humility, honesty, and joy towards Christ. Namely, the Christ of Scripture who is the eternal God and who is Yahweh. They will then love Christ and want to serve him. Then they will thank you for sharing the full gospel to them because God used it to save them and enable them to know him and his redeemed people forever.
So don’t be discouraged when it comes to sharing the full and true gospel. In other words, don’t wuss out. Know that you’re a slave to Christ now. He bought you. Obey his command of sharing the gospel. Make sure it’s the full gospel. Make sure it’s the real gospel. Don’t expect everyone to like you 100%. They don’t already anyways. Remember, unbelievers aren’t mad at you necessarily. They’re made at the truth, and that’s a good place for them to be. Try not to give people any reasons to be mad at you personally. Share the bad news AND the good news, not just one or the other. Consider it a privilege of privileges. You’re service is for God’s eternal kingdom. You’re reward is in heaven.