Today we'll start with these words of Jesus to his then-disciples:
“Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (Mark 16:15, NLT)
"Yes, Lord", we say to that, as modern-day disciples. "In whatever way you want us to do that, here we are!"
Yet, as a partner of an unbelieving spouse, anything to do with conveying the Gospel in our homes is far easier said than done.
It fascinates me to look at some of the evangelists out there who have a special grace for leading people to the Lord. What a gift! A well-known example was Billy Graham, of course, who led large events. But an evangelist will also be particularly skilled at leading people to Jesus in one-on-one conversations. If this is their calling, they will live and breathe this purpose.
Over here in Auckland I happen to know three evangelists and I watch them curiously. Two are paid ministers, and one is a guy from my past church who has a day job in I.T. but for his vacations he'll fly to refugee camps in far-flung places where he leads people to the Lord. Looking at these three I can say they have a particularly strong urge to get people across the line, they are skilled at putting the Gospel into words, and they are less fearful of rejection than the rest of us.
We need these skilled men and women -- Ministers of the Gospel -- and they're a really important branch of ministry. But perhaps why we need them the most is they can equip us, and I'm going to return to that idea in a later post.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up (Ephesians 4:11-12, NIV)
Now, while the evangelists are busy leading people to the Lord in droves, we have something entirely different -- but similar -- going on: We have one spouse to win over and it seems we cannot!! Like the evangelists, we have the burning urge in us to get this happening. Yet, we can barely verbalize the Gospel to our spouse. What's more, many of our spouses have already heard the Gospel from the pulpit and said a mental 'No.' As people do.
This makes our version of evangelistic work one of high intensity. But Jesus cares about the one (Luke 15:8-10), and so do we. We care so much, in fact, that the salvation of this one spouse is our deepest desire.
It's as if we hold a precious one penny in our hands, our spouse being the one penny that Jesus wants to save. Somehow in the course of our marriage we will repeatedly sediment the Gospel into our spouse's heart. But when I say 'repeatedly', it could be a decades-long project. I personally am prepared for that now. I wasn't a few years ago.
This scripture here reminds us to keep going:
For, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:13-14)
In other translations the word 'preaching' is replaced with 'publishing'. In its Biblical usage the word is used to describe John the Baptist and Jesus, proclaiming the Gospel in synagogues and out on the street.
In the SUM home, however, 'preaching' looks different. It might involve sharing (or even debating) a particular facet of the 'Gospel' during conversation. But mostly it's living it out.
In any case, we will keep going with this task. I cheer you on, and I know you cheer me on -- And hey, we will roll up our sleeves and do this hard thing!
Let's keep chatting in the comments, but here's a question I'm curious about: Do you think your spouse has actually heard the Gospel?