by David Phelps
ďDo not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person.Ē - Mother Teresa
I can say without especially bragging that I'm pretty good at giving directions. But recently at work some employees from out of town were looking for the Training Room. I had time, so I said, "Follow me," and I took them to the Training Room. I could have told them how to get there but it was easier to show them than to say, "Take the elevator to the first floor, go right until you get to a 'T' intersection -- that's Order Entry -- then turn left, take the first right, go along until you make a jog to the right, go a little further until the corridor ends, turn right and go through the first double door on the left; if you end up in Purchasing you went too far, go back and go through the double door." (Whew! I'm out of breath just typing it!) Sometimes, the shortest set of directions is "follow me."
The gospel -- in fact, the whole New Testament -- is a story of people who found a new way and then showed it to others. Jesus told his disciples, "'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him'" (John 14:6-7 NIV). He also said, "'I am going . . . to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going'" (John 14:2b-4 NIV). Early Christians were said to belong to "the Way" (Acts 9:1-2, 19:8-9, 24:22). The gospel itself is "the new way of the Spirit, and not . . . the old way of the written code" (Rom. 7:6b NIV).
The call of the gospel is a call to repentance. John the Baptist preached "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Luke 3:3b NIV). He commanded the people, "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." (Luke 3:8a NIV). The word translated "repent" in the New Testament is the Greek word "metanoeo," meaning "to have another mind." But there is another word translated as "repent" in the Bible. In the Old Testament books of 1 Kings and Ezekiel, the Hebrew word "shub" means "to turn back:" "Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!" (Eze. 18:30-32 NIV). Repentance is a turning away from our old ways and directions. I'm sure many of us have heard the old line about the directions to get to Heaven: "Turn right and go straight."
The late missionary Mother Teresa once said, "Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." This column is supposed to be about "personal evangelism." Spreading the gospel is not the preacherís job or the bishopís job or someone elseís job; itís my job and itís your job. Donít wait for someone else to show the way, do it yourself. By your example, you can change minds, hearts, and lives. An evangelist once observed that most folks want to be able to sing "Just As I Am," and stay "just as I was." But a true encounter with Christ changes us. We cannot continue in the way we once did. And once we know the way, we can show everyone we meet.
"For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord's message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia--your faith in God has become known everywhere." (1Thes. 1:4-8b NIV.)