Sunday, September 4, 2011

Burning buildings, drowning victims.......and evangelism

In a conversation on Facebook, a person stated he believed he must point out people's sins in order to love. He then used the illustration of a burning building. If a person was in a burning building, is it loving to tell them everything is ok or to tell them to get out because the building is on fire? When I asked why are there only two options to love--pointing out sin or telling everyone everything is ok, he asked what the third option is in the illustration of the burning building. Perhaps the answer to that is going into the burning building and helping the person out. His response was the person doesn't believe the building is burning or that they need a way out. So his way to love is to tell a person the house is on fire. If they don't listen, he moves on to the next house.
I have heard this illustration before. A preacher attempts to motivate his listeners to evangelize by employing the illustration of the burning building. The unsaved are in a burning building. You as the Christian must warn them of the fire and offer them Christ as the answer. Or the preacher used the drowning illustration. We Christians are in a boat and all around us in the water are lost souls drowning. Jesus is the life preserver. 
Is this the best illustration for evangelism? The emphasis falls on the moment of conversion. The object of salvation is to save someone from Hell. Yet when I read Scripture, I never find conversion to be central to the Gospel. I find discipleship to be the emphasis. I find God is interested in re-creating me from a self centered being to a God-centered being. I am reborn and must learn to walk again in steps of a peace which seeks everyone's wholeness and talk again using the language of self sacrificial love. 
In my experience, we are not in a burning building but on a journey. God wishes to join us on this journey, invade our space, and redeem all of the journey. I am not saved from my sins in some vague eternity. I am saved from sins now and forever. The journey is redeemed. That which would break me on my journey or break others through my journey, God offers healing and wholeness. At some point in this journey, I joined God's Story, not to get to Heaven, but to bring Heaven to me. The Presence of God is mine in the here and now.
So does the burning building or the drowning victim imagery inspire you to evangelize? What imagery would you use to paint the picture of what God is doing in your life?

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