Are you a mosquito?
By Pastor Tom Anderson
There are many ways to talk about the gospel. But often many of us feel so tongue-tied we wind up saying nothing at all. Like a mosquito in a nudist colony, we know what we need to do but we just don’t know where to start!
The gospel is God’s story about how he saves the world through Jesus. For those who respond with faith and obedience, there will be salvation--entry into the kingdom! But for those who do not, there will be judgment.
A simple way to tell God’s story is by using a three word outline: 1) manger; 2) cross and 3) king.
First, Jesus comes to us in the manger. This is the theological doctrine of the incarnation. Here we can talk about how God has come to us in the flesh. He has lived our life and actually experienced all of the joys, tragedies and frustrations of human life. He touched lepers. He fed the hungry. He preached good news to the poor. He came as a servant to meet human needs and address the hurts of this world. One can illustrate this by simply recalling a story from the Gospel in your own words. You don’t need to memorize the scripture, just retell the story: such as the feeding of the 5000, or the raising of Lazarus or the parable of the Good Samaritan--or any other story that illustrates the serving/teaching ministry of Jesus.
Second, Jesus died for us on the cross. This is the theological doctrine of atonement. It was necessary for Jesus to pay the price of human sinfulness. He is our substitute, absorbing the consequences of our selfish living upon himself so that we might be free and ready to be restored to fellowship with God. Sacrifice is easily illustrated by police and firefighters who sometimes give their lives in order to rescue someone else. The predicament of sin is easily illustrated by a mortgage crisis that left many people hopelessly bound in debt so deep, the only way out was forgiveness--in which someone else has to absorb the cost. But such rescue is in vain unless we trust and believe that it has indeed occurred on our behalf.
Third, Jesus is king. Jesus has a kingdom and he wants to set it up within us as well as on the earth. This is the theological idea of renewal and restoration. We can have a new life under a new authority--Jesus himself. We no longer need to live by our flesh, but we can choose to follow the Spirit and live by the Spirit. In this way we rise above our flesh and live above our sinful desires. Jesus will also return to renew the earth and establish justice among the nations. Until that day our charge is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8)
The advantage of this outline is that it focuses on Jesus. It presents him as a real person with a real story. He is someone we can know, follow, learn about, worship and serve. It emphasizes that becoming a Christian is not merely about accepting some doctrines, it’s a personal relationship, a life to live and a journey to take with the God who became a man in Jesus Christ.