As aspiring proclaimers of the Gospel we need some essential equipment. First, we must have a true conception of God and how He perceives people. Wonderfully, this is available to all, as Jesus said: “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” As we consider Jesus, as He looks over the wretched, struggling, crowd, we see how God the Father sees people, including ourselves.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary (exhausted) and scattered, (isolated) like sheep with out a shepherd (Matt. 9:36).
Is this how we understand God? That He is seeing us and is “moved with compassion?” Or do we imagine God mad at the world and fed-up with us? Or is the image of God, more pagan than Christian? Do we envsion God to be more like Zeus with his lightning bolts ready to throw, than like God as revealed in Christ?
If it is, then repentance is in high order! As G. Campbell Morgan said, the Greek word “repent” means “a change of mind, of conceptions.” When God says “Repent!” He is saying, “You’re not seeing things rightly!” But there’s great hope as our thoughts of God and man can be straightened out by simply “fixing our eyes on Jesus.”
In Hebrews 4:15, the good news of how God thinks and feels about us becomes even more specific. We’re told that God “sympathizes with us in our weakness,” or more specifically in our “sin-struggle.”
Are “compassionate” and “sympathetic” descriptions that come to our mind when we consider God thinking about mankind? In John’s Gospel he describes Jesus as God’s heart (love) and logos (mind) manifest in flesh. Do we truly see God as compassionate and sympathetic toward us, desiring all to be made well (saved)? Or does our conception of God need some changes?
In Matthew chapter 9, Jesus shares with His disciples God’s yearning to gather to Himself all the exhausted and isolated, everywhere, to make them well. “Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38 italics mine).
Next we need to understand that in this call to proclaim the Gospel, God is more interested in what we are, than what we do. Notice, Jesus said to His disciples, “Therefore pray.” He didn’t say, “Therefore go and make this happen!” Jesus later commissioned His disciples to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). He tells them “before you go, first, wait, for the Spirit to come upon you” (Acts 1:8).
Why wait? Wait, means to “wait and pray” until the Holy Spirit empowers us, as witnesses of God, in Christ. Without this empowering, without this authority, we really shouldn’t go anywhere, or preach anything. By the way, contrary to what some imply, Jesus never said to his disciples, “Go witnessing!” Read it carefully. He said in Luke 24:48, “You are witnesses.” In other words, “You’ve already come to see and know the Father, as you’ve seen Him in Me, therefore go”
Being a witness is not something we primarily do but something we are. Witnesses of God in Christ have come to know and believe that God is love, and that God has love for us (1 John 4:16 italics mine). They’ve got the “goods” and are thus ready to make the “delivery”.
Imagine if during a cross examination in a court trial, it was discovered that the witness had not actually seen or heard anything concerning the particular case. That witness would be dismissed as having no credibility or authority.
The Holy Spirit empowers us as witnesses by enlightening our “eyes” to see the Father in the Son. Seeing and believing, we enjoy Him and the Gospel; then we go and tell what we’ve seen and heard. This is our blessed job description as laborers in God’s harvest!
Listen to John, the witness:
That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full” (1 John 1:3-4 italics mine).
May God give us this essential equipment that we may fulfill our “job description” as proclaimers of the good news! Oh that we might know and enjoy the Gospel, that it might be seen in us and felt through us as we proclaim it. May we be powerful witnesses of God’s great redeeming love, the Gospel of Jesus Christ!