“You can’t please everyone, all the time.” –Abraham Lincoln (but probably misattributed)

I was listening to a recent podcast between Bill Simmons and Chuck Klosterman. They were discussing a variety of topics, but fell upon the idea of sports arenas trying to gin up the entertainment aspect of games outside of the games themselves. They bemoaned inventions such as music played during a basketball game, t-shirt cannons and big screens trying to motivate fans to cheer. Klosterman attempting to summarize his position stated that things are always worse when they try to appeal to the masses. I found myself nodding along with agreement as he started to name other things that attempt this strategy and fail. Until in his listing he came to one that stopped me—religion.

One of the most memorable sermons that I have heard spurred on evangelism with logic borrowed from committed atheist and magician, Teller. Teller works hard to promote the cause of atheism, but after an encounter with a humble person who gave him a Bible he said something that inspired my local minister. Teller asserted if one really believed another was going to hell without salvation found in Christ, then how horrible would that same person be if he refused to share the good news.

I took an evangelism and world religions class as an undergrad taught by Dr. Monte Cox. He was presenting the strategies of congregations to try to meet the non-spiritiual needs of the people that surrounded them. Some members of the class questioned whether the extreme examples were sacrificing their salvific mission in order to bring bodies in the door. “Isn’t it the church’s sole purpose to save souls?” they asked. Dr. Cox responded that each person must answer how far is too far in order to try to make a contact for the gospel.

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” -Jesus of Nazareth in John 14:6

The apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians that Christ gave “some to be evangelists.” I know that I have not been given as such. The gospel is not a fire in my chest. I am saddened with that admission, but it does not make it any less true.

When I think about a world of lost people, I am neither surprised nor motivated. Instead, a pit begins to form in my stomach. What deepens the abyss is I do not know if forms because of sorrow or guilt.

I am tempted then to ally myself with others more gifted in promotion than I am. I am tempted to cross stated lines of doctrine to stand together and fight against the ignorance that pervades. But then I read what some others who claim to be Christians say and I have to stop because although I would like to do more to show harmony with christendom, I cannot compromise Truth.

I have shown little personal growth here for years. Although I live in an area that I describe to others as a mission field, I am stunted and do not know how to overcome it. I fail too often to bring up the gospel when I have the opportunity to do so. I wonder if I am different enough for people around me to notice something they wish to obtain. I let fear steal away my conviction and preconceptions color my conclusions. My view is myopic and my light is too often hidden. What a wretched man I am. Why would God place this task in my weak hands? I am good at other things, couldn’t they be enough?

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” -Jesus Christ in Matthew 28:19-20 POSTSCRIPT

In my first drafts of this post I stopped with this Scripture, but it felt incomplete. Too often in my life I have been willing to admit my error as if confession alone produces change. It does not. Conscience serves to provoke conscious decisions to change, and so I have tried to look for opportunities recently.

Not surprisingly God has presented opportunities to me. People have said to me that I am different and meant it as a compliment. I have been emboldened to talk about my church life. I have not converted anyone or spoken eloquently in each situation or eliminated the sin that holds me back; but I am trying to be aware of the moments available to share my beliefs. I may never be given as an evangelist, but I know God will use me as He sees fit if I will only allow Him to.