Not Reproduction, But Rebirth
Whenever there is revival, evangelism spearheads it because the evidence of “new birth” prevails. Jesus shares with the woman at the well, a Samaritan, not a Jew, a woman not a man. He broke the social code of his day. He also chose to reveal being the “Messiah” to her, not one in his inner circle of disciples, but a common woman, a non-Jew, not a theologian or priest, so his mode of evangelism could be looked upon as controversial for his time, but we can not refute its effectiveness. The woman went back to her village, her people, and began to testify what Jesus, a Jew, just did for her. So did Jesus use this same evangelistic approach in every village he visited? Did it become the “model” for his disciples to emulate in the future? No!
Paul had to learn the power of diversity in effective evangelism. What proved profitable in one village got him stoned in another. What was effective with one culture proved to be ineffectual in another, yet we, the Church, today still try to find the perfect “model”, the perfect “program”, the perfect “form or structure” to do evangelism. When Billy Graham did mass crusades in arenas, evangelists sprung up in tents and arenas everywhere emulating what had worked for Dr. Graham. Since his three-point sermons were effective, every evangelical seminary in America taught their budding ministers how to preach three-point sermons. Americans will travel from coast to coast to catch seminars on formulas, programs, and structures that have proven successful to other churches, hoping to emulate them, but that is not necessarily how the Holy Spirit works nor is it the true “evangelistic spirit” of rebirth.
Evangelism is not “reproduction” but “rebirth”. In the natural world “reproduction” is synonymous with “rebirth”, for when human beings “reproduce” they get more of the same, more human beings. This is not true in the spirit world, for you have no family tree, no grandparents, no parents who give you spiritual birth. It is a choice YOU have to make. Jesus said, “YOU must be born again!” YOU have to make the decision to “accept” Jesus, to “follow” Jesus, to “worship” Jesus, to be “obedient” to the Spirit of Jesus Christ. You will not get to enter the kingdom of God because of your parents, grandparents, nor through any other earthly relative. Jesus even professed how you must leave your parents in order to learn his truth because it all comes back to YOU personally, not your heritage. Your decisions, your reactions, your responses to Jesus Christ is central to your salvation. The Old Testament system of genealogies is gone; it has yielded to the new testament system of your “choice” of accepting Jesus that makes “all things new!”
Evangelism is all about getting people to make Jesus “their choice.” Accepting that choice is what brings revival when “all things become new.” We were born naturally, reproduced, but spiritual we have to chose a “rebirth”, a total newness. This is what Nicodemus wrestled with when confronted with his choice of being a disciple of Jesus.
So what does “rebirth” mean to us individually and to us as a Church if it does not mean just “reproducing”, restructuring someone else’s ideas, plans, programs, or methods? As an earlier blog suggests, do we just produce “little boxes… that all come out the same”? Must all Christians look alike? Act alike? Think alike? Believe alike? Or is there diversity because each individual is an unique creature, who makes his/her own choice, so his/her “uniqueness” can be touched and transformed into something totally and uniquely “new”? If the answer is “yes”, then I believe there is a “rebirth” spiritually.
So rather than looking at a program that works for a church somewhere else, let’s allow the spirit of uniqueness, the spirit whose purpose is to draw all men to Jesus, the Holy Spirit, to lead and orchestrate our endeavors. Truly the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ is the evangelistic spirit that draws all men to the Father, God, through the cross, resurrection, and obedience of Jesus Christ. It is also the spirit of “truth”, and can lead the “true” way to be effective producing “choices” for rebirth. We think of the lost as needing “rebirth”, but we must also realize that we, the Church, also need “rebirth”, a “retooling”, a “rethinking”, a “new mindset” if we wish to experience another spiritual Renaissance or “revival” that will not only make “all things new” to individuals who “chose” it, but also the Church as a whole!