At the Gates
Being faithful doesn’t just involve what Gospel you speak. Every bit as important is where you speak it. My wife is better at this than anyone I know. Getting groceries or replacing the coffee pot becomes a Gospel opportunity. She doesn’t preach or buttonhole in stores. Normal small talk in lines sometimes leads to coffee. Sometimes that leads to lunch. Sometimes that leads to Gospel friendship.
One of her Gospel friends was at one time a successful Madam providing “escorts” for visiting businessmen. Her middle class camouflage in Macy’s was flawless until a complement about hair or earrings – contextualize guys. Then came coffee, and eventually, her story. Her “training” began in childhood when she was molested by a relative. Then came a long dark descent. She grew up in church but missed the Good News – Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. Imagine her surprise when she realized her disqualifiers actually made her a prime candidate. John 4 all over again.
When Jesus affirmed Peter’s confession (Matthew 16) he didn’t have to say, “preach it in church”. But he did have to be very explicit about the gates of Hell. It is great that you don’t waver from the truths of the gospel, that you hold them with reverence. But may I ask, where do you hold them?
Martin Luther, in his commentary on Galatians, said not confessing at the gates was one of the marks of a false apostle,
They do not go where the enemies of the Gospel predominate. They go where the Christians are…These soft martyrs take no chances. They go where the Gospel has a hold, so that they may not endanger their lives. The false apostles would not go to the Jerusalem of Caiaphas, or to the Rome of the Emperor, or to any other place where no man had preached before as Paul and the other apostles did.
Don’t get me wrong, their main mark was what they preached. But not holding the confession at the gates does make us half like them, and half unlike the real ones. Who wants that?
Where are your gates? Where is your well? Do not go out of guilt. This is inside-out territory. Go first to Christ for fresh joy over sins forgiven. Delight in the Father’s mercies that are new every morning. Then go where you know. Become an insider. Be a real friend to someone who doesn’t follow Christ. Anticipate partying with the angels (Luke 15:7).
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