God Is Determined
And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” —Mark16:15 (nrsv)
The other evening, a supermarket checker concluded my transaction with “Have a blessed night.” I babbled some response while processing the lovely surprise of a stranger’s speaking blessings upon me.
At a discussion the previous evening of Mischa Berlinski’s novel Fieldwork, a friend had commented that she always avoided saying anything religious around potential nonbelievers, and I recognized that I do the same thing.
In Berlinski’s book, a journalist in Thailand researches an anthropologist’s murder of a missionary. When the journalist, a nonbeliever, starts getting to know the missionary’s family, he’s surprised that, though they talk about Jesus a lot, they never try to evangelize. In another scene, the anthropologist, also a nonbeliever, asks the mother of the missionary family to explain salvation and the older woman refuses.
Despite these scenes and Berlinski’s secular Jewish heritage, the novel is refreshingly congenial toward the missionaries and Christianity.
It struck me that maybe evangelism—literally, telling the good news— isn’t just about telling people how to be saved. It’s about telling all the other good news about God. That He made us, pays attention to us, suffers pain when we reject Him. That God is determined to win our love. Evangelism is telling the gospel—another word for good news— present in all of Scripture, not just in Jesus’ death and Resurrection.
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