Tuesday, October 9, 2007
My first encounter with “Friendship Evangelism” was with Brother Bill Jordan at
I’m reading a book that Joy had purchased for one of her “Masters of Ministries” courses – “Christ Plays In Ten Thousand Places” by Eugene H. Peterson, a Presbyterian minister. The following are some quotes from Mr. Peterson’s book. I believe these principles are just as valid in Yellville, Mountain Home and Gassville as Volcan.
It is striking how much of Jesus’ life is told in settings defined by meals. Early on people noticed how frequently Jesus was seen at meals with people who were outsiders, men and women not considered acceptable in religious circles. Our term would probably be “the unsaved.” He got a reputation for eating and drinking outside conventional settings and for not being very particular with whom he ate: “Look a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” (Luke 7:34)
The frequency of hospitality references in the Epistles – Acts 4:32-35; Romans 16:23; Hebrews 13:1-3; 1 Peter 4:9; 1 John 3: 16-18; 3 John 5-8 –shows how thoroughly the meal became a focal practice in the early church for participating in Jesus’ work of salvation. The final citation 3 John 5-8, is particularly instructive as it contrasts two church leaders, Gaius and Diotrephes, on the grounds of their practice of hospitality. Gaius was a hospitable man, sacrificial and generous in his hospitality to strangers, welcoming those who showed up as “fellow workers in the truth” (RSV). Diotrephes, by contrast, was full of himself, arrogantly refusing hospitality.
The most frequent North American way of giving witness to the salvation that Christ accomplished on the cross (which is to say, evangelism) is verbal.
It is the devil’s own work to detach the language of salvation from the setting of salvation, to separate words from personal relationships, to make salvation a “cause” or a “project” that can be conducted as efficiently and impersonally as possible. But the gospel will not permit it. In the story of our salvation, we find the Architect of our salvation going about his salvation work in the thick textures of place and person, and to a surprising extent, in the settings of a meal.