“preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”
This statement is at best idealistic, and at worst, severely misguided. I will address it later though.
We cannot think that today that being a Christian is preeminently about doing good works. I am sure that some may get bent out of shape and think I am attacking good works and saying that Christianity is not about them. Don’t misinterpret me. Good works are not primary. The Kingdom of God is not first about going and helping all the poor people around us get financially stable, helping all the socially oppressed alleviated of their distresses. Once again, don’t misinterpret me. I am not attacking these ministries, for certainly they are manifestations of the Kingdom of God among us. I am attacking your idea and notion about their role and importance in the Kingdom.
Many today are returning to an emphasis upon the Kingdom of God, which is highly necessary, biblical and encouraging. Something that Jesus emphasized so much in his ministry ought to take primacy in our daily lives as well. But somewhere, somehow, the concept of the Kingdom of God has been reinterpreted to have reference primarily to doing good works, to feeding the hungry, helping the oppressed and bringing justice (which has been reinterpreted to mean primarily social justice) to the nations. And so Christians are getting on their ‘Jesus’ horses and riding on their merry way off into the sunset believing that they are “bringing the kingdom of God to the marginalized, oppressed and poor.”
What is sadly happening is that people think that their primary function as citizens of the Kingdom of God is to bring wealth, health and prosperity to those who are poor, sick, and marginalized. All that is happening is a blinding of Christians to one of Satan’s most effective tools in his arsenal against the spreading of the Gospel – getting Christians to think that the gospel – that is, the Good News about the Kingdom of God is about helping people situationally here and now. The reason I say this is because Satan knows that if he can convince Christians that the Gospel is not FIRST a message, FIRST good news, FIRST something to be proclaimed, then he has an upper hand in the battle for souls.
What we must never think as followers of the King Jesus Christ is that his Kingdom is about anything less than the preaching of the good news of the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ alone. What happens is that Christians think that they are being good Christians by helping the poor, helping the oppressed, helping the sick. Of course they are being good Christians, but then they ‘forget’ to do one thing – PREACH THE GOSPEL. But the sad truth is that they haven’t forgotten to preach the gospel – they have bought in to the phrase above – “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words”. They haven’t forgotten to preach the gospel, they have neglected to preach the gospel because somewhere, somehow they have boughten the lie that the Kingdom of God is first and foremost about alleviating peoples earthly plights.
This statement becomes even more appalling the more I reflect on it. What is most appalling is the words, “If Necessary”. If necessary??? So there are times when it is not ‘necessary’ to preach the gospel? It is absolutely necessary that we use words! Jesus always preached the gospel – in fact, this is how his ministry begins: the moment he receives power from on high, what does he do? He immediately goes and “preaches the good news of the Kingdom of God”. What about the disciples at pentecost? What does Jesus tell the disciples they will be when they receive power from on high? “You will be my healers?” “You will be my oppression-defeating force?” – No, Jesus says, “You will receive power… and you will be my witnesses“.
The point of what I am trying to say is that the Kingdom of God is about Jesus and if the people you are ministering to don’t know Jesus then they don’t have the Kingdom, no matter how much you help them. If you don’t tell them about Jesus, then you’re not inviting them to enter the Kingdom. Do you want to spread the Kingdom? Then start PREACHING the gospel, start SPEAKING the gospel, start TELLING the gospel, start SHARING the gospel. If you don’t do what Jesus did, namely, go from town to town calling people to repent from their sins and come and follow Jesus, then you are not “spreading the Kingdom” no matter how much you think you are. Do you want to be “Kingdom Minded”? Spread the gospel and tell people to repent of their sins. Do you want to minister to the poor, oppressed, and marginalized? Spread the gospel and tell them to repent of their sin. Hell is going to be full of poor, marginalized, and oppressed people if Christians continue to think that they can “share the gospel without words”.