It was only a week ago that I preached a sermon that talked about people who are resistant to the gospel. I posed what I thought was a good series of questions:
How do we share the gospel in a community in which many seem to be resistant? How can we share the gospel effectively, when it sometimes feels like we’re about as welcome as the furnace telemarketer? How can we — ordinary people like us — live on mission?
It’s not the first time that I’ve talked about people being resistant to the gospel. I’ve used other terms as well, like hard soil. People usually know what I mean, and I don’t get many arguments about the premise that we are in a gospel-resistant culture.
At least, not until last week.
Two days after I preached this message, Gord Fleming, National Director of C2C, spoke to a group of church planters in Toronto. He spoke about the explosion of new churches in Québec, which is known to be much more resistant to the gospel than Toronto. “We believe the lie that it’s hard soil,” he said. “The enemy wants to defeat us.” When God gives us an assignment, Satan will do everything the can to throw us off, and one of his tactics is to get us to believe that people aren’t ready for the gospel. We just need to love Jesus and be obedient to the Spirit, he said, and not defeat ourselves before we begin.
Then, last Sunday, I attended Fellowship Pickering, a church plant in a suburb of Toronto. Matt Hess spoke about creating a culture of invitation. He challenged us to refuse to worry about hard soil. God is at work, he said, and we just need to follow him and trust him to work with expectation.
We shouldn’t deny reality. We can look around and make tentative conclusions about our communities. At the same time, Fleming and Hess are right. Our enemy would like us to see the obstacles more than we see God’s power. Let’s stop coming up with reasons why God can’t work, and let’s pray and obey with expectancy. God happens to specialize in what we tend to identify as hard soil.