“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.”
2 Corinthians 4:5
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” John’s words about Jesus’ coming on this earth are one the loftiest revelations we can find in the Bible. The omniscient eternal God came to live with His creature, to love us, to die for us.
If we grasp, even a little, the magnitude of this act that changed the whole world and history, we can only be silent, or say, with a faint voice, “thank you”. All “born-again” Christians have experienced this spiritual awe, the subsequent repentance, and the uncontainable thankfulness that follows.
What a contrast between this humble attitude that the Holy Spirit produces in us, and the man-centered Christianity that seeks to promote itself and its lifestyle, that we too often observe around us.
ACCI’s key verse, 2 Corinthians 4:5, clearly highlights this difference. As Christians we are called to proclaim only Jesus as Lord.
Every time we put ourselves, our ideas, or even our good ethical values before the excellence of Christ, we are not proclaiming the gospel, but rather a self-accommodated message made to convince others that we are right and they are wrong.
If we look at this world and its human powers, we see fights, injustices, lobbies, and divisions everywhere. Our society is the result of a constant clash between different factions and interests. As Christians, we know very well that we should be different, but in which way?
The main difference, I believe, lies in the awareness of two main truths: firstly, that our fight is spiritual and not against flesh and blood (Eph.6:12); secondly, that the Gospel we proclaim is for this world, but not of this world. As long as we are pushed in one direction or another by the fears and the threats we experience in our daily lives, we will never be able to focus on the change that God wants to produce in us and through us.
We can’t call ourselves Christians and fight with human weapons. We can’t say we follow Jesus while basically considering Him a weirdo whose teachings cannot be taken seriously, nor actually lived out in our daily lives. We might not feel at ease with this, but He’s the one who allowed His enemies to kill Him, on purpose, while praying for them.
What a difference from our attitudes, and our lives, so often entangled in fights for our rights, or in relational and political battles.
What an encouragement for those who today suffer for the sake of the gospel, to know that He didn’t win from the world’s point of view, but He nevertheless totally won from God’s point of view.
He won by losing everything. We would like to win the race of life without ever losing face, finances, loved ones or dreams. He is a king and made Himself a servant. We are servants and would like to be kings.
In a moment in history when everything seems to be at risk, we must not buy into the lie that serving God means to promote ourselves, our opinions or our organizations. The church, the true church, is still here and livelier than ever. She is putting into practice what it means to be “your servants”. Servants to those who struggle financially, to the homeless, to the poor and to those who have never heard the Gospel proclaimed. But as it has always been, she is a remnant and not the majority. The hay of fake Christianity needs to be burnt before Christ’s return. The bride of Christ needs to be cleansed and prepared for the wedding.
When we relate to this world, we tend to make the same mistake that many Christians make with their children. They take for granted that they are already believers, therefore they expect a ‘Christian’ behavior from them, while in reality, they should be evangelized.
We do the same when we preach ethics to non-believers, without first preaching the Gospel. Sometimes it’s even worse, and sadly, we preach only ourselves.
How many denominations and churches run as proselytizing factories? How many ministries are there to perpetuate their vision of the world, their name, their logo, trying to protect themselves instead of risking for the gospel’s sake?
No one is totally innocent in this sense. We all like it when people tell us we are right, when the pews are full, and when we appear successful in the Christian arena. Yet, this is lightyears away from the only thing we are actually required to do: proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord in our lives, our ministries, our churches, and to the world.