Saturday, June 4, 2011

Are You an Undercover Christian?

Back in the 1970’s, comedy troupe IIsaac Air Freight did a sketch about the “Undercover Christian,” someone who hides their light under a bushel.  Many of us (myself included) are tempted to be undercover Christians because we don’t want to encounter ridicule from unbelievers, or from churchgoers who may not believe the same way as we believe.

I recall offering a friend in the church I attended some gospel tracts. He had unsaved relatives and colleagues... and while a tract will not necessarily cause someone to fall on the ground, repent of their sins, and ask Jesus to come into their life... it can.  It was a tract that someone left on the seat of the Greyhound Bus I was riding on that caused me to ask Jesus to be the Lord of my life.  And so I do recognize the power of the printed word.

Unfortunately, my friend seemed intimidated by the possibility of handing out one of those leaflets.  I can understand.  Some people have taken tracts and ripped them to shreds... or simply tossed them into the waste bin.  One person figured they would respond to a tract I left in a common area of our apartment complex by putting a satanic tract on my doorstep.  Yep... those who follow the devil have tracts too!
But while there may be some discomfort or embarrassment about handing out tracts... in our society there is little opportunity to be executed for following Jesus’ commandment:

Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 [MSG]

Pastor Lon Solomon reminded me of five young men who paid the ultimate price to share the gospel of Jesus Christ to a group of indigenous Ecuadoreans. Nate Saint, Jim Elliot, and three other young men traveled to Ecuador to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the native people. This tribe had a history of hostility to outsiders. Oil workers looking to drill near their tribal land were summarily executed. One young woman from that tribe warned of their murderous ways.

Those warnings notwithstanding, these five young men went down into the jungles of Ecuador to bring the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ.  Those young men were found murdered; their bodies pierced with spears that had their gospel tracts attached.  The natives who attacked and murdered these young men eventually realized they had committed a grave error (see biographical sketch) and when the wives of the slain men arrived offering love and forgiveness, the tribe was converted.

Such commitment to the gospel makes me ashamed of keeping silent to avoid ridicule.  It makes me want to be more bold in sharing the love of God to the world.  How does it affect you?

A motion picture entitled The End of the Spear dramatizes this story... showing how the sacrifice of five lives, and the love and compassion shown by their surviving spouses... lead to the complete evangelization of this tribe of people. We have embedded this 2006 motion picture below for your enjoyment:

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