Bring on your Beasts! by Travis Evans
November 11, 2006, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Evangelism, Uncategorized

by Travis Maples

I figured I would spend this week writing a little bit about a couple of our more formidable opponents in our pursuit of the lost, the “fear of man” and apathy. What is the fear of man?  It is caring more about what others think of you than what God thinks of you.  At root it is a craving for approval; a desire for others to exalt and think highly of you.  Know thy enemy because it’s right here with us at all times!  The next major foe to evangelism, apathy, is a deadness of spirit that rears its ugly head in our lives from time to time.  It is carelessness for the condition of those around us. 

We must go to the cross to prepare for warfare against these nasty enemies.  We must dwell there, reminding ourselves of who we are in light of all that God is.  Once we catch a glimpse of our sinfulness in light of God’s holiness, two things happen in our souls.  One, we no longer care for what others think of us because it’s there that we see what we deserve in light of what we received; we see truth.  We see who it is we are to serve—God—“the one who drew me up from the pit of destruction” (Psalm 40:2).  It no longer seems important what the Joneses think.  Two, at the cross we lose our apathy because it melts away in the heat of God’s love for us.  Often times we don’t evangelize because, as Kenneth Maresco writes, “we ourselves have become complacent with the cross” (article: “Preaching Christ Crucified”).  Christians who don’t evangelize have either become ensnared with the fear of man or apathetic towards the lost.  It is at the cross that we deal the needed blows to such enemies as these that reside within us.

Here are two men who were not apathetic and definitely cared nothing for the praise of men to inspire you …

Charles Spurgeon did not allow the fear of man to prevent him from serving his God and loving a lost and dying world.  Apathy doesn’t grow easily in a heart so hot: “To be laughed at is no great hardship to me.  I can delight in scoffs and jeers.  Caricatures, lampoons, and slanders are my glory.  But that you should turn from your own mercy this is my sorrow.  Spit on me, but, oh repent! Laugh at me, but, oh believe in my Master!  Make my body as the dirt of the street, but damn not your own souls!” (The Soul Winner)

What’s that? Still not convinced?  Spurgeon was in no real physical danger of being harmed anyway?  Well, here’s another old and respected dead guy, Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who did have his life on the line before a multitude of haters.  Let’s see how he responded to that temptation to fear of man.  According to Bruce Shelley in Church History in Plain Language it happened like this: “The authorities brought the highly respected pastor into the crowded arena, prepared to shove him to the lions—but only reluctantly.  They much preferred a denial of the charge against him.  He was a Christian.  ‘Simply swear by Ceasar,’ the governor pled.  ‘I am a Christian,’ said Polycarp.  ‘If you want to know what that is, set a day and listen.’ ‘Persuade the people,’ answered the governor.  Poycarp said, ‘I would explain to you, but not to them.’  ‘Then I’ll throw you to the beasts.’  ‘Bring on your beasts,’ said Polycarp.  ‘If you scorn the beasts, I’ll have you burned.’ ‘You try to frighten me with the fire that burns for an hour, and you forget the fire of hell that never goes out.’  The governor called to the people, ‘Polycarp says he is a Christian.’  Then the mob let loose.  ‘This is the teacher of
Asia,’ they shouted, ‘the father of the Christians, the destroyer of our gods.’  So Polycarp, praying that his death would be an acceptable sacrifice, was burned at the stake.”   

God, forgive me for my apathetic heart that is so easily contented in my nice, warm home with my full fridge—seemingly safe, sound and convenient behind my front door.  May I not be drunk with my abundance, complacent with the cross.  Helps us to care more about what you think than what those that don’t know you think about us.  May we draw near to the cross daily.  Help us to live for the audience of One.

If you have any stories about how God used you to reach the lost and how the Holy Spirit gave you power over the fear of man I’d love to hear about it.  



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