Last Saturday, we stopped for a quick lunch at our favorite taqueria. Munching a chicken burrito, I was soberly contemplating the fact that I was “too busy” to do any outreach that day. Good intentions aside, there was softball catching tryouts, Christmas shopping to do, and the school Christmas program started in the early afternoon. I had to get everyone ready and I was pretty much rushing from one thing to another.
Then Santa walked in! He was “ho ho ho”-ing and passing out flyers from his bag. With him was a “lady reindeer” also passing out flyers. I thought they were probably local merchants advertising their business with coupons. Soon the reindeer lady came to our table (Santa worked other tables) and to our surprise, the reindeer placed on our table, a candy cane attached to a gospel tract!
Wow, someone was actually out on a Saturday, passing out gospel tracts to hundreds of people on the streets in downtown San Mateo. And they were doing the “high visibility” thing; being clearly “visible” as someone openly sharing the gospel in public. This was encouraging to see Christians willing to do this. Turns out this was a local church I am familiar with.
So after chatting with the reindeer lady for a while and she moved on, I looked down and read the message. It was “The Candy Cane Gospel”. As I read it, I have to admit, my heart sank, and I began to wonder, is any evangelism better than no evangelism at all?
This message shares some things about Jesus, but it leaves out so much of the gospel. Our sin against God is great. The gospel is glorious. Jesus is glorious. What He did for us to save us, is glorious.
On the back of the tract is “The Prayer”. It says, “If you want to have a relationship with God, you can pray…” and it has the prayer, and then, “Signed_______”, Dated_______ Welcome to the family of God!” This is way too easy. I don’t think people reading this will really grasp Who God is, how righteous, holy and just He is, what we have done against Him, how great is our need for God’s grace and mercy, how great and glorious Jesus is, and what He did for us to pay for our sins, Himself.
“Praying a prayer” is not the thing that brings people into right relationship with God through Jesus. The act of praying a prayer does not save. People need to be convicted of sin, and repent of sin to be saved. They need to place their faith and trust in Jesus to save them. (And yes, I believe it is God that does this, through the reading or hearing of the gospel.) A person may express this repentance and faith in a prayer to God. But we do not need to tell them to “repeat this prayer after me.” They will pray if they have been born again and given the Holy Spirit.
We must be bold and willing to reach out with the gospel. But we must be more bold to share clearly, as much as we can, the true, complete, Christ exalting, glorious gospel, trusting God to save His sheep .
The church that posted this gospel message (below) says we can download, burn and give away copies of this message (for free) all we want. Listen, be blessed, and pass it on, because the gospel is glorious.