Chocolate cake or sunset?


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,


10 comments on “Chocolate cake or sunset?

  1. OMGosh!! Yes! Yes! YES! That there, is an insight! I think that’s why our young people have left in droves! They’re sick of having chocolate cake shoved down their throats. They just want to enjoy the sunset together. Pondering sharing the Son-set!

  2. Yes, there’s way too much God-in-a-box (our box), and the Gospel is far more than the “small gospel” we often present. It’s not cake devoured in a minute (and then no longer enjoyed other than by memory of the cake session), but as vast and full and rich as the kaleidoscope sunset.

    One catch in this, though. We can’t share the sunset this way with one who is still blind. (heh) Jesus told Nicodemus no one could see the Kingdom of God unless He was born again/from above. So, with spiritually blind people, we can take them to the cliff where the view is clear, and describe the wonders we see in the best way we know for them get a sense of it… and meanwhile be praying like crazy for them, for God to open their eyes, because like the John 3 passage says, it’s God’s Spirit that does that–and too often we leave Him out of the process!

    Good thoughts here, Dawn! Thanks for sharing the picture!

    • Sylvia,

      I have to pray that I don’t miss Jesus in the blind, the erring and the reprobate. For at any given moment I can be the one blind, erring and reprobate. After a day at the park, I can hear Jesus teaching me: “Didn’t you see how the teenager cared for the little child who lost her ball? No probably not, not after that self-same teenager threw the little Testament you gave her in the playground trash can? Your anger blinded you to the compassionate, caring person she is. Don’t you SEE?????”

  3. Dawn,
    Sometimes it’s sadly not cake but a cup of something very bitter and a horrible or devastating thing is happening to them and they are holding on by a thread …..and then look to God. Seems there are opposites here in the way people search for and find the Savior. The cake and the sunset are only two of the many analogies… individual as we all are. I’ve always wonder if everyone sees the color “green” in a totally different way….we would all be seeing Spring but how so?

    • Yes, Mary, I think this is Tony’s point in the sunset illustration. If we all share what we see, we see a bigger green, a spring in a way we may have never seen on our own. It is in the sharing that we ALL grow. If we think that those without the Lord have nothing to teach us, we are of all women most miserable…me thinks.

  4. Years ago, we had some seminars in our church (mostly retirees) on “friendship evangelism” — being willing to walk with your neighbor or friend, caring, listening, helping. And in that walk, “share sunsets”. Ultimately, eternity issues would come up and you could share Christ’s message. It went over like a punctured balloon. I remember hearing mutterings of “Be ye not unequally yoked. . .” and other comments. The people in this church just did not mingle at all with others outside the walls of this little church.

    To tell you the truth, I’m not good with the “4 spiritual laws” and knocking on doors and shoving cake down people’s throat. I do much better with the walk, the exchanges of sunsets. It fits more with the “what would Jesus do?”

    Just this week, as I was out driving, I was listening to Christian radio, and I heard Sherry Keagy’s song, “When You Were Jesus to Me.”

    It touched me deeper than any song has in a long, long time, and I wondered if I have become cold and so involved in my own life that I have forgotten to be Jesus to those around me —- the sacrificial, caring, willing to die for, Jesus. His last concern and words before going back to the Father were to go into all the world and MAKE DISCIPLES — not hand out tracts, booklets, and chocolate cake —- but rather spend time watching sunsets and walking with people, working with them, crying with them, being Jesus to them. It’s really the only way they will ever see Him, isn’t it?

  5. When I saw your titile, I had just gotten off the phone with a daughter and had mentioned how ready I was for a chocolate party! So my first thought when I saw your title is can’t we have both…Reading what you put makes me smile because we also ran about with our four spiritual laws but have come to the sunset time of our lives … I have grown tired of thrusting out what I believe to have it often misunderstood and rejected… Even a blind person can enjoy a sunset… the birds sing differently then and the warmth softening on the face is gentle, and the description by a friend nearby unites a heart… it is all about resting in His beauty and seeing it as His gift to all… His will is that all would be saved and come to the knowledge of his pecious Son…HE is so much more than we could ever measure.
    loved your post dear Dawn. May His gracious grace abound in our lives that when others ask the hope that is in us… we can offer up Jesus…

    • May we so live that people will ask us. That is what I am praying for before I go to bed tonight. That in community we will all feel a holy hunger…and run for the cake. Good-night Susan.

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