Every once in a while a quasi-theological nugget quite simply drops to earth from the mind of Monty Python. Today is one of those times.
I’m reminded of the “Birth” scene from The Meaning of Life. The doctors have assembled a cadre of people and machines (yes, the machine that goes, “PING!” among them) and are ready to engage in a “fetus frightening.”
Doctor: “It’s a birth.”
Hospital Administrator: “Ah. And what sort of thing is that?”
D: “Well, that’s when we take a new baby out of a lady’s tummy.”
HA: “Wonderful what we can do nowadays.”
Anyway, the stage has been set, the players are in place, and the expectant mother has a question for the doctors:
Mother: “What do I do?”
M: “What do I do?”
D: “Nothing, dear! You’re not qualified!”
I just came across a card that was distributed at a local LCMS congregation’s neighborhood Easter festival. The front and back of this card read as follows:
HOW DO I PRAY IF I WANT TO BE A CHRISTIAN?
Thank you for loving me even though I’ve sinned. Thank you for dying on the cross in my place. I’m sorry for my sins and I want you to be my Lord and Savior today, Amen.
WHAT DO I DO NOW?
1. Pray to God every day. He wants to hear all about your day, both the good things and your troubles.
2. Read the Bible every day. God tells us how to live and what he wants from us.
3. Find a Church and attend Sunday school and learn how much He loves us.
Wow. Do ya think that we could possibly do better than this? Maybe just a touch better? I remember the Rev. Dr. Norman Nagel often asking the question, “Who’s runnin’ the verbs?” Gee, Wally, who’s running the verbs according to that little card? I would love to put out a card that answers such questions, “Nothing, dear! You’re not qualified! But Jesus did it for you!” That is, could we possibly, just maybe put a little bit of Gospel in our evangelism? Or are we simply stuck with the same old moralistic ask-me-how-to-save-yourself-and-Jesus-can-help-too crap that everyone else is peddling?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m for sanctification. I’m for encouraging God’s people toward godly living. But maybe in evangelism we could start with the message that “the kingdom of God certainly comes by itself without our prayer,” and “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” If I’m motivated to pray such a prayer, it’s a result of faith. And I’m just spitballing here, but perhaps we could talk a little more about the gifts God gives, without which we perish, instead of trying to get everybody to be good boys and girls, live right, and give God what he wants, and then Jesus will love them back.
Maybe this is why it won’t matter how much money we throw at evangelism programs. It’s a novel thought, but evangelism isn’t evangelism without the Gospel.