Pelted for the Gospel

“If we truly believed in Hell, we’d quit our jobs and preach the gospel.”  Author unknown

I remember as a little girl going to church with my family.   Every Sunday, we listened to a sermon, chatted with our friends, and then drove home.  Our family followed this pattern for years, until one day my father announced he would drop us off at home and then go to “visit” people in the neighborhood.

As a pre-teen, I didn’t know what “visiting people” meant.  Until hours later when my father returned home disheveled with tomato stains on his shirt.  I sat horrified, as he explained how he had knocked on doors to share the gospel, but met only those who were hostile to God—even one lady let her dog out to chase him away.  My eyes welled up with tears as he talked about trying again, the following week. 

“Please daddy, don’t go again!” I pleaded.

My father chuckled and told me, “I have to go; people have to hear about Jesus, or they will go to hell.”  I’m not sure what disturbed me more, the thought of hell, or my father’s willful martyrdom.

Later on, someone who served on the board of elders with dad eagerly followed him throughout the neighborhoods.  Half of me wanted to plead again for dad not to go; the other half stood proud of him for doing what the Bible commanded him to do.

Week after week, the pair went out and returned home either discouraged, pelted with fruit or vegetables, or winded from running away from dogs.  However, one-day dad returned home with an enormous smile on his face and a bounce in his step.  God had given him an opportunity to speak to a previous tomato pitcher, who opened her door and listen to what they had to say.  Nothing could wipe the smile from dad’s face that day.

Eventually, the Jehovah Witnesses started canvassing the neighborhood, and my father found that he spent more time explaining their error about Christ, than sharing the gospel. Although it ended his adventure walking the streets surrounding the church, it never ended his boldness to share the gospel with anyone he met.

Let’s face it, today we’re gospel-sharing wimps and wish we had that kind of bravery. We allow our employers to tap down our enthusiasm, we worry people will reject us, or we try to avoid making unbelievers feel uncomfortable.

We also allow the convenience of Christian podcasts, gospel memes, and Facebook posts to convict hearts and to share the love of Christ as a primer, of sorts, to the salvation message.

Even so, I can’t help but think if the Bible is “active and living” and just as potent today as when first written, then why would anything other than the word of God suffice. Mark 13:10 tell us, “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations,” (NASB) and not the fluff that overwhelms social media.

Now, I know the feeling of having situations arise, drawing a blank, stumbling over your words, and wimping out…it’s happened to me, many times.

However, over the years I learned the following:

First, God doesn’t need me to save anyone.  It’s not my job to convert the lost. I cannot do anything to change someone’s heart for Christ.  John 6:44 says, “That no one comes to Christ unless the Father draws him.”  (Paraphrase)  Our job is to call people to repent and share how the blood of Christ redeemed them from hell. The result of that effort is up to God.

Second, God will give you the words when you ask Him. Mark 13 continues, “…do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit.” (13:11b; NASB) Well, before this gets weird, the caveat here is that if you don’t have Scripture memorized or a Bible handy, the Holy Spirit will not take over your mouth and speak through you. No, that’s Hollywood fantasy.  God will put His Word (verses) in your mouth by helping you recall what you have committed to memory—for this occasion.

Finally, a consistent example of a changed life is the most significant witness anyone will ever see. Someone who lives out obedience to Christ will display a lifestyle that is driven to serve the Lord because of what the gospel has accomplished in his or her conscience. Righteous living is an insult to the world. A life that holds fast will feel rejection (and obtain a good fruit pelting) from those who feel guilty, or it will draw them to you because they desire the joy you display because of your freedom from sin.

It’s an honor to have God use us as tools to share the gospel. The opportunity to show others how God has changed our lives is the noble cause that motivates us to walk in the Spirit.

So, let’s pray that God will give us opportunities to share the gospel with unbelievers.  But let’s also pray that God will provide us with a fervency to share because people are going to hell, and if that costs us our wardrobe, our standings, or even our jobs, well, then, they’re worth it.