The Gospel Truth: Maybe cliches aren’t so bad after all

One of the things we talk about in psychology is how simply listening can be healing.  And I think we all know this from our own lives and relationships.  When I am hurting, hearing words of wisdom or similar life experiences can be helpful, but it’s really a person’s wholehearted presence that brings comfort and hope.  I want to feel seen, understood, accepted and loved.

Somehow, though, over the years (I’m not that old, so I’m not sure how many years, haha), it seems like we have become so consumed by the need to be fully understood and not judged, that we are quick to dismiss any kind of wisdom or advice offered.  All of a sudden, people have to “measure up” to these invisible standards and earn the right to speak truth into our lives.  If there’s something we don’t like about the person, or if we know of an area in their life that is not up to par, or if they say something we already knew, we feel offended by their attempts to impart wisdom to us.

Maybe this is not you, but I know in my heart, this has definitely been me.  And I think it reflects our culture these days…our obsession with tearing down any and all authorities, and with preserving our own rights, autonomy, and confidence in ourselves.  I am my own expert, and I know what’s best for me.  My experience and my feelings are not only valid, they define truth for me.  Even within the Church, these ideas have subtly become a part of our thinking.

But the thing is, the Gospel is different.  Jesus is different.  Jesus says that He is the way, the Truth, and the life.  Jesus is the same —  yesterday, today, and forever.  We believe in a Truth that transcends culture, life experiences, and even our own feelings and perspectives.  It’s not that these things don’t matter, but that they themselves cannot encompass the full measure of Truth.  And we believe in a Truth that does not discriminate; it can be found on the lips of the broken, the poor, the mighty and the weak. No matter what packaging it comes in, truth is still truth.

And if I am totally honest with myself, this is exactly the kind of Truth I need.  I need a Truth that is bigger than my circumstances.  I need a Truth that holds me steady when everything else is confusing, and blurry, and inconsistent.  I need a Truth that doesn’t rely on me, that is the same with or without me.  I need a Truth that is so simple, it takes childlike faith to receive it.

So bring it on.  Bring on the cliches, the simple Gospel truths that I have come to love. God, help me to have an unoffended heart that cares more about what You are trying to say than about who is saying it.  When I offer truth to others, I want to be one who listens first and seeks to understand.  And when others share with me, may I be one who tests everything and holds onto the good, who humbles myself enough to listen and receive Truth wherever it may be found.

 

Advertisements

Do I really believe this? Sharing the Gospel in Cambodia

20120629-134818.jpg

In April, we took our first ever mission trip as Life Center Bangkok: three short days in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Our goal was simple: share about God’s love with anybody and everybody who’d listen. By day, we met people and tried to build relationships; by night, we held meetings at a nearby hotel and shared life stories, and God’s story too. We didn’t have elaborate strategies for getting people through the door; we didn’t even pass anything out to those we met. But in faith, we prayed and believed God’s heart for these people.

And somewhere in the middle of it all, I did start to wonder. I wondered what other Christians I know would think about our methods. I wondered if everyone back home in America would even approve. Would they think we’re crazy, boldly coming up to strangers in a foreign land and asking if we could share about Jesus? Or impolite? Or over the top?

The thing is, it is a little crazy, right? We are a little radical. And if I had doubts — any at all — that this Gospel is true, and powerful, and life-changing, then maybe doing all of that is pretty stupid. But how can I deny what I know? How can I deny what I’ve seen and experienced? How can I deny this God who has revealed His love to my heart, who has healed brokenness before my eyes, who has changed my life and others’ too? And if this God is real, if Jesus truly is the Hope of all hearts, and cities, and nations…then how can I not share with everyone and anyone? How can I not proclaim the truth I know, that others might find salvation and freedom and life in Jesus?

So maybe many in the church do have doubts, and maybe if you have doubts, you shouldn’t find yourself standing on the streets of another country, proclaiming a Gospel you’re not sold on. But I pray that God will reveal Himself so powerfully to His church, that every Christian would know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is all that He says He is…that “radical” wouldn’t be radical anymore, and that whether it’s in America, or Africa, or Cambodia, all believers would find themselves doing crazy things sometimes.

20120703-103624.jpg

By the way, we had the joy of seeing God do some amazing things in Cambodia. On our short trip, we made contact with over 40 people who are interested in building a church in Siem Reap. Many at the evening meetings made decisions to follow Jesus, and eight were even baptized. Our God is unbelievable! Teams from my church will continue to go to Siem Reap as God carries on the work He started!

Last of all, thought I’d share this slideshow. I made it to share about Thailand with my mom’s church (which didn’t work out), so at least I can share it with all of you. Maybe it will give you some ideas for how to pray. I stole a lot of the pictures from Facebook, so thanks FB friends! 🙂

Greater Things: Thailand 2011-2012 from Holly Stangle on Vimeo.