The world desires safe spaces be maintained; spaces free of judgment, free of guilt, free of fear and shame. They love sin, and do not want their daily routine jarred by the Word of the Lord. Jesus said, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish”—He preached a jarring message. When we take God’s Word to the streets we see how disturbing it is to feelings of safety in secular spaces. Worldlings chafe under the proclamation of the only existing remedy for their guilt and shame, and as their consciences are rubbed raw they scorn the ones who give the offending message voice. Sadly, we often humor the masochistic demand of the lost to silence the message which is their only hope. Instead, we flee to our churches and create our own safe spaces free of conflict, free of scorn and persecution, and in many ways, free of eternal concern for our hell-bound neighbors.
We have great influence with those most closely connected to us and there is a place in the Christian life for the slow drip of friendship evangelism and the careful tilling of soil within our families. Intimate conversations and lifestyle evangelism are vital to our Christian witness, but they are not the same thing as “Go into all the world and preach the gospel.”
I am perplexed by our willingness to spend a great deal of money and time to travel the world for a week or two to share the love of Christ in foreign countries, while leaving the mission field at home untilled. Our witness to the ends of the earth is now impaired by unbridled wickedness in our own backyard. Our reputation precedes us wherever we go. The world knows Americans celebrate homosexuality, murder over one million babies each year, participate in unjust wars around the globe, and export all manner of depravity calling it entertainment. We arrive on their shores hypocrites who have failed to reach our own people, why do we expect them to hear us?
America needs to be evangelized and the need is urgent, too urgent to wait for the lost to walk into our churches. We must proclaim Christ not only in intimate conversations with dear friends, but in the public spaces of our politically-correct world. We don’t find it odd for missionaries to preach the Good News in the foreign marketplace, but we view this same behavior as suspicious and fanatical when performed stateside.
People are people everywhere and what is true in Africa is also true here. Our neighbors are not safe in their sin, though they desperately attempt to maintain their judgment-free zones. They are not safe from the earthly fruit of their folly, and they will certainly not be safe on judgment day. Our God is a holy God, a good and righteous judge, and all those who do not believe on Christ will bear the punishment for their own lawless deeds. Is that what we want for our neighbors?
Invading “Safe Spaces” with the Gospel
Calling out “repent and believe” in the public square is not an invasion of privacy or noise pollution, it is love for our neighbors. Unbelievers are steaming down the broad way toward death drawing many to destruction in their wake. We must call them back from their headlong stumble toward hell. We cannot wait until we have built a lifelong friendship with each one. When they have set their hearts toward the murder of their own children, for instance, we must sound a warning of danger ahead.
The Lord hates . . . hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil,—Proverbs 6:17-18
We must not fear speaking the holy Word of God. When the culture shouts for gay marriage and no-fault divorce and transgenderism, Christians should answer with the truth about what the Creator has ordained, and voice the hope of redemption for those caught up in sin. If the gospel matters, it matters to everything. It is not merely a private message. We assert boldly and publicly the lordship of Christ over all things because when hearts change the world changes. The message of “repent and believe” is the answer to every false message our culture is preaching. That may seem simplistic, but it is true. Why, for example, do we want to abolish unjust laws in our counties, cities, and country? Because God is just and doing justice is one of His commands.
What is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice . . .—Micah 6:8
Injustice isn’t something to wring our hands over it is something to repent of and call others to repent of. So we proclaim the redemptive message of Christ not only in our churches and to our friends, but to our county commissioners, our lawmakers, and our law enforcers. We plead with those enslaved to sin, as we once were, to hear the message that signals their release.
Evangelizing On the Front Lines
These are the front lines. Where the cultural battle rages is where we go to proclaim the powerful message of Christ crucified. If we wait for sin’s slaves to show up for church, the message will die within our walls before it ever reaches their hearing.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?—Romans 10:13-14
We need to invade the safe spaces of our culture with the disruptive message of “repent and believe.” It should feel unsafe to follow the way of sin and death because it is unsafe.
But, I’m Not an Evangelist!
Do you feel inadequate to be an evangelist? So do I. We must get straight from the beginning that we are not adequate—Jesus is. If we don’t carry that message then we had better go home. Evangelism has nothing to do with our adequacy and everything to do with the necessity and urgency of the message. The Law is clear; you shall not steal, you shall not murder, you shall not covet; and we are lawbreakers all. Even so, we do not carry a message of despair, but of hope. Hope not only for whitewashed church-goers, but for all who will turn from their evil and believe.
Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.—1 Corinthians 6:9-11
Hope exists for the addict and the adulterer, for the molester and the murderer, for the transvestite and the thief, for the crass and the covetous, even for that guy with the Coexist bumper sticker. We trust that what the Lord has said He will do and we proclaim His message so that many may hear. Though we may be weak of voice and fearful, He works powerfully through His Word. As we find our voice we may rest safely even as the wicked hear and tremble because we know that salvation belongs entirely to the Lord who says,
How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!—Romans 10:15
This article was first published in Every Thought Captive magazine in 2016. Subscribe HERE.