© July 30, 2018 | Schulter Etyang
A few months ago, I met a Christian leader who wanted me to help him set up his blogging site. In our discussions, he specifically insisted that his bio must reference his work as a life coach. He did not want any outright reference to his work as a minister. His take was that most people don’t want spiritual talk or solutions to their issues. In his view, most people he encountered wanted principles that would make their lives better. Therefore, he needed to shed off his ministerial references if he could reach a wider audience other than just the church.
Many years ago, I wanted my bio to read the same. I wanted to become a leadership guru. My theological and ministry training was geared towards acquiring top-notch leadership knowledge and skills to train leaders and run a world-class organization. I also did not want any reference to my religious credentials.
The 21st-century trend is this – Christian leaders are evolving into strategic and transformational coaches, life coaches, and entrepreneurs. This idea is supported by Paul’s assertion that he was a tent maker. (Acts 18:3 NLT) Paul made tents as a way of supporting himself on his missionary journeys. Thus, it is argued that Christian leaders also need to develop their professional skills in order to gain access into the world.
Why are 21st-century Christian leaders shying away from anything that remotely sounds gospelish? Why is the lure of “professional” titles and qualifications so attractive to us?
Here’s why. We have not been enticed and enchanted by the gospel of peace, the gospel of good things. Our hearts have not been fully captured by this gospel – good news.
the gospel of peace, the gospel of good things
Prophets Isaiah and Nahum, and Apostle Paul wrote this
Romans 10:15 (LITV)
And how may they preach if they are not sent? Even as it has been written, “How beautiful” “the feet of those preaching the gospel of peace, of those preaching the gospel of good things.” (See also Isaiah 52:7, Nahum 1:14)
The Old Testament prophets were prophesying about Israel’s return from the Babylonian captivity and the apostle was describing gospel speakers of his age and beyond. In their estimation, Christian leaders have one thing to do and that is to preach the gospel of peace, preach the gospel of good things.
Let’s do some Hebrew. Peace, in Hebrew, is shalom which means welfare, i.e. health, prosperity, peace, favour, friend, good health, rest, safety, etc. The root word for shalom is salam, which means complete, finish, full, give again, repay (again), etc.
See the idea of peace (shalom) is this – this peace has been paid for (salam). It is a done deal. It is finished. It is complete. The debt we owed has been repaid again, again. Someone else paid for it. His name, Jesus.
The LITV further notes that we speak about the gospel of good things. Wow. Good things? Yes, good things. Blessings, favour, health, wisdom, peace, righteousness, holiness, joy, the Holy Spirit, anointing, eternal life, glory, hope, freedom, new identity, family, royalty. heavenly citizenship, and much, much more. These are good things. Of course, I sound like the TBN preacher you don’t like, but these are good things.
The Hebrew word for gospel is basar, which means to be fresh, i.e. full (rosy, cheerful) and its Greek counterpart is euaggelizō, which means to announce good news.
This picture forms in our minds about our work. Christian leaders announce the fresh, and cheerful news that Jesus paid in full for all good things. And it is this simple yet powerful announcement, that the apostle believed, would transform lives, forever.
So then, isn’t preaching the gospel of peace, the gospel of good things much better than simply trying to be a strategic and transformational coach, life coach, or entrepreneur?
Isn’t telling the world that all the peace and good things they are looking for has already been paid for by Jesus and his work on the cross us?
I believe that many young preachers of our generation have not been exposed to this kind of definition about their role in ministry. I wasn’t. I saw ministry as hard graft trying to teach and make people obey God. I saw how my pastors, at various stages in my life, battled hard to try to make people obey. It was a stressful job. It was unfruitful in every way possible. It was a thankless task. I think I then made up my mind to avoid his path at all costs. I thought it would be much better to teach principles and let the chips fall as they may. I did not want to get into the murky business of people’s lives.
I was wrong. I had allowed my spiritual experiences to cloud my thinking.
But God rescued me from my own decisions. He lavished my life with his grace. Grace changed my affections (metanoeo – repentance). I, then, got a glimpse of the glorious task that is reserved for us – preachers of the gospel of peace, the gospel of good things.
I think this task is much glorious than what I had envisioned myself doing. Just the idea that you could spend your entire life speaking about peace and good things gives me goosebumps. I would rather spend my whole life speaking about the gospel of peace, the gospel of good things – that all is finished, all has been completed and all has been paid for. And then, watch lives change.
That’s what grace looks like