II Timothy 4:2 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
II Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.”
As we represent Christ — in our lifestyle, in our witness, in our testimony, and in our preaching — we engage in a careful balancing act. In order to reach those all around us who need Christ, we need to mix together a style that is fitting of our sending nation in heaven with one that is contextually appropriate in the land that is our mission field. Never have I heard the challenge of doing so better explained than in “Preaching” by Timothy Keller. His thoughts include the following:
- “We adapt and contextualize in order to speak the truth in love, to both care and confront.”
- “Contextualization is fraught with dangers, and in both directions. If you over-contextualize and compromise the actual content of the gospel, you will draw a crowd but no one will be changed. That is nothing less than a dereliction of the preacher’s duty. You will mainly just be confirming people in their present course of life. On the other hand, if you under-contextualize, so that your communication of the gospel is unnecessarily culturally alien and distant from the listeners, you will find that no one will be willing to hear you out. Of course, that means that no one is changed by the gospel either, however valiant you are for the truth.”
- “Show yourself to be a member of the broader human community in which you reside … Demonstrate that Christians share a common membership in the earthly city, not just citizenship in heaven.”
As Christians, we are to preach the Word! We are to be instant in season and out of season. We are to be witnesses of Christ in our local community and unto the uttermost part of the earth. We are to be ambassadors for Christ, representing Him effectively and appropriately to those around us. Our words and our actions are to be caring and confronting, filled with grace and truth. We are to neither over-contextualize nor under-contextualize, so that people can be changed by the power of the gospel of Christ.
PLEASE PRAY FOR AMERICAN CHRISTIANS TO CAREFULLY BALANCE THE GOSPEL MESSAGE SO THAT WE CAN EFFECTIVELY SPEAK TRUTH IN LOVE. May our ambassadorial style allow us to both care and confront.