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We Talk About What We Love

When we keep our mouths shut about the gospel, it shows there is something wrong in our hearts.

We all have those moments in life we wish we could rewind to and do things differently. For me, the thing I most regret is what happened before my grandmother’s death. Or rather, what didn’t happen.

My grandmother died absolutely convinced that God would accept her because she was a good person. She had no faith in Christ. And here’s what I regret. In the week before my grandmother died, I did not speak to her about Jesus. I tried to love her well, but didn’t say anything to her about Jesus. When my other grandmother had died, I’d taken her hand and prayed with her. But not that grandmother. I just let her go.

I Was Afraid

Why didn’t I tell her about Jesus? I’ve come to realize that I was afraid of what she’d say, and I was afraid of what my family would say, because I knew they’d think it was inappropriate and unhelpful. I was afraid.

I loved my grandmother, and she loved me, but the hard truth is that I loved myself more than her. I wanted my family to think well of me more than I wanted her to think of Christ as her Savior. That’s why I didn’t speak to her. I loved myself more than I loved her—and more than I loved my Lord.

And that means that my family’s respect and having an easy time in life had become idols to me. When it came down to it, the hard truth was that I wanted my family to respect me more than I wanted to bring Jesus glory or see my grandmother saved. It was my idol—a good thing elevated into a divine thing—and I was so afraid of losing it that I kept my mouth shut.

The Divine Waiter?

I’ve often wondered why lovely, compassionate, committed Christians simply don’t do evangelism—and why, at times, I didn’t either. For years, I couldn’t understand why so many well-taught, and in many ways mature, believers were just apathetic about sharing the gospel. They knew about the new creation; they believed in the reality of hell; they confessed Jesus as their King and Savior. But they were half-hearted at best about telling others about him.

Here’s what I slowly came to conclude had happened to these committed, non-evangelizing Christians: In their hearts, they were serving something good that they had made into their god—their idol. And that’s what was stopping them from evangelizing.

Everyone worships something. By nature, we’re the people Paul describes in Romans 1:25, who have “served created things rather than the Creator.” Anything that we serve instead of God is a created thing, an idol. Money, reputation, power, career, family and so on—our hearts get kidnapped.

When we worship an idol, we turn God into a divine waiter. He is there to deliver our daydream to us. We touch base with him on a Sunday; we put our order in via prayer; we might give a decent tip in the collection plate. But God is essentially there to give us what we feel we need—our idol. And we get furious with him if he doesn’t deliver.

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RicoTice@churchleaders.com'
Rico Tice is associate minister of All Soul’s Langham Place, London, and founder of Christianity Explored Ministries. His latest book is Honest Evangelism: How to Talk About Jesus Even When It’s Tough.