The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/23

Posted on | October 23, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 10/23

Scripture reading: Isaiah 2:1–5

Not a Bad Sermon for an Atheist!

But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (I Corinthians 1:27–29)

 

Although British journalist Matthew Parris calls himself a “confirmed atheist,” he builds one of the strongest cases for world missions and evangelism I have ever read. In an article written in 2008, he boldly states that Africa needs more than development. Africa needs God! And Africans need to be converted! As an atheist, he finds his conclusions a bit embarrassing, but rather than backing away, he presses forward with his thesis.

I used to avoid this truth by applauding the practical work of mission churches in Africa (hospitals, schools, etc.). It’s a pity, I would say, that salvation is part of the package . . . I would allow that if faith was needed to motivate missionaries to help, then, fine: but what counted was the help, not the faith. But this doesn’t fit the facts. Faith does more than support the missionary; it is also transferred to his flock. This is the effect that matters so immensely, and which I cannot help observing . . .

Having grown up in Africa, Parris knows what he is talking about. He discusses some of his own personal experiences and testifies how they have forced him to recognize again and again the positive impact conversions have made not just on individual morality but on the community.

Whenever we entered a territory worked by missionaries, we had to acknowledge that something changed in the faces of the people we passed and spoke to: something in their eyes, the way they approached you direct, man-to- man, without looking down or away . . . Christianity with its teaching of a direct, personal, two-way link between the individual and God, unmediated by the collective, and unsubordinate to any other human being offers some- thing to hold on to for those anxious to cast off a crushing tribal groupthink. That is why and how it liberates.

Building to a crescendo, Parris brings his article to a startling conclusion.

Those who want Africa to walk tall amid the twenty-first century global competition must not kid themselves that providing the material means or even the knowhow that accompanies what we call development will make the change. A whole belief system must first be supplanted. And I’m afraid it has to be supplanted by another. Removing Christian evangelism from the African equation may leave the continent at the mercy of a malign fusion of Nike, the witch doctor, the mobile phone, and the machete. (Times Online, December 27, 2008).

Not bad for an atheist! The only thing missing is an altar call! Who will go? Not just to “the dark continent” of Africa but across the street to your neighbors. Who will tell the world that Jesus alone has the power to save?

Why should anyone hear the Gospel twice, before everyone has heard it once?  —Oswald J. Smith

point to ponder Redeemed people redeem society.

prayer focus Missionaries who are “in the trenches” all over the world.

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