In his book Neighbors and Wise Men, Tony Kriz says he was taught to “share the Gospel”. He says when he first heard the phrase he viewed himself looming over lost people telling them about Jesus. He said he never once envisioned an exchange with the people, he was the only one talking. “Sharing the Gospel” meant he had something others did not and he had to figure out how he could give it to them. He said his idea of “sharing the Gospel” was like sharing a piece of chocolate cake. He had the cake and he handed pieces of it out to others. As he matured in his faith, however, this unidirectional model left him cold. At Reed College he found a better way to “share the Gospel,” one not founded on the idea that a privileged few control God’s blessings to the masses. Tony says “sharing the Gospel” is not like sharing cake, it is more like sharing a sunset:
Imagine two people standing on a cliff above the Pacific Ocean, watching the sun slowly dip below the horizon. As you share a sunset , you must stand shoulder to shoulder, not face-to-face. When you share a sunset, both observers are caught up in the glory and beauty and mystery. When you share a sunset, everyone present has equal opportunity to contribute; anyone can have a thought to share or implication to suggest. It is a remarkably shared experience. This does not mean that everyone present understands all aspects of the sunsets. One of the people may have dedicated years of her life to better understanding photophysics, atmospheric density and the interrelationship of celestial bodies. All these things can significantly inform sunset conversation. Sometimes it is fun to understand the science behind why a sunset works the way it does. However, another person may have different insights to offer the conversation. Maybe the other person is a watercolor painter and can describe the nature of beauty and its relationship to hope. The conversation can take many turns; these sharing friends, these neighbors may even need to discuss their sadness, because storms have hidden the beauty from their eyes. Being together in their blessing and their pain, these are even times when silence may be the best way to ‘share’.
No one can claim to own the sunset. It inspires humility. It releases awe. I can never get enough sunset. I am always left wanting more. A sunset is clearly not painted, created, or contained by humans It is the work of God. It is a gift to the world. It is something to be shared.
Ah, yes, with no offense to Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ, when I went around knocking on doors with my little Four Spiritual Laws pamphlets and asked people if they knew where they were going if they died tonight, I was in the chocolate cake mode. I wasn’t on their doorstep for a conversation. I was there for a conversion–on MY terms. I have to thank Tony for smacking me up the side of the head on this one. It was a good smack and I really love how he teased this all out. I’d like to think I’m more of a sunset person now, and Tony helped me to see that. It’s good solid theology that will keep me away from the chocolate cake!
Walking with Him this Wednesday because He is with us,