When Good Deeds Hinder the Gospel
Did you know I was probably the most resistant person you might ever know to the idea of sharing the gospel. Seriously, I would actually get angry at people who shared with people, thinking they were offending people to the point of no return.
That was until I saw Austin (my later to be husband) and this other guy John actually leading people to Christ. That didn't fit in my strongly formed opinion of how they were offending people. When I asked Austin to tell me what he says to people, it was in an arms crossed, let's see if you're gonna offend people stance. It was a conversation and I felt valued and respected. The Lord began to soften my hard heart.
So now, knowing sharing the gospel is something the Lord desires every believer to do, I would wonder why Jesus would tell people to not tell people when He healed them. Like here:
"A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, "If you are willing, you can make me clean." Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured. Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: "See that you don't tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them." Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere." Mark 1:40-45
That's weird really. I mean, doesn't Jesus want to get the glory? But the Lord finally helped me understand. Good deeds, fixing peoples physical needs can sometimes actually be a hindrance to the gospel, that's why Jesus told this leper to not tell anyone. But the guy tells people anyway. He doesn't tell them Jesus' message, but tells them Jesus healed him and the message gets left out. And the result was Jesus could no longer enter a town.
I am all about helping peoples physical needs. I am not great at it since I don't just naturally know what to do. But I also know there is a tension, that it can be easier to help someone physically and never actually share the message of the gospel with them.
You know that quote by Saint Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel always and if necessary use words." Well, he never actually said that. And here in Mark we see Jesus caring about the opposite. And after all, just because we do something nice for someone, or just because they know we are a Christian, that doesn't mean they know how to be forgiven and rescued from hell. Romans says, How can they know unless someone tells them?
It is so easy to do what we think is right in our own eyes. To do the easier thing that feels good. So that makes it all the more important to do heart and action checks.
Are any of my activities hindering the gospel?
Is anything I am doing keeping me from sharing the gospel?
Are my activities leading people to desire and be so focused on something other than the main thing?
You also might like:
When you forget who you are
What is God like? The Attributes of God
More in this series
A Glimpse of the Wow-ing God 1:1-8
I was Ruined for Anything Else 1:16-18
Amazed and wanting to throw off a cliff. 1:21-28
When the need and your calling don't match. 1:29-39
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9/19/2012 01:20:41 pm
I learned something new today. Thank you for this post. Blessings.
9/19/2012 10:46:30 pm
I never got this either, but your explanation makes sense. The healing was for that individual, not everyone else. It was Jesus' way into that single man's life. We can share the joy of what Jesus does for us, but that doesn't mean that He will or should to the same for someone else, nor should we expect our result to be the same for them. I learned something, too!
Great post Laura. That quote about "using words if necessary" drives me nuts--not biblical and apparently not even accurate! You make a great point about serving physical needs. It is super necessary and we are even called to it but it's not sharing with someone, the truth and salvation of Jesus. It does take words.
9/21/2012 10:18:30 am
I too wondered why Jesus asked people not to tell others after He did a major miracle like healing them. Your post brings out so much more that I missed and I thank you for that. I never thought about people focusing on the miracle, which really clouded the biggest miracle of all, Jesus providing salvation for us.
Powerful post Laura. I have also been nervous about sharing my faith especially here in America. I am from Ghana originally where generally people were more open to the gospel of Jesus Christ and did not always think you were "offending" them. I saw that the story was different when a moved to the US some years ago.
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