Last night was another blessed time of reaching out to people with the Gospel. Our team for the evening was Kwabena, Kwadwo, Wainaina, Waithera, Rhea, James, Barney and myself. It was a warm and pleasant evening for outreach and there were certainly plenty of people about. Perfect for witnessing.
Standing up to preach I began my message by talking about the recent scandal with the News of the World. Due to illegal phone hacking the paper has now had to close down after 168 years in print. I decided to use this to draw on people's concept of what they believe to be right and wrong, and more importantly, how can we know what is right or wrong, and also, to which standard do we turn when asking the question of what is right and what is wrong. If the News of the Word staff believed they acted rightly, who are we to say they acted wrongly? Is right and wrong just a matter of opinion, or is there an objective standard? There is, and that standard is God. He made the world, and that means He makes the rules. This allowed me to bring the message into line with examining ourselves in light of God's rules and understanding that we are guilty sinners worthy of judgment. Helping people to see they deserve the wrath and judgment of God for their sins makes the grace of God offered through Jesus Christ far more amazing. People are also able to appropriate a clearer understanding of why they need Christ.
Not long after I finished preaching another preacher entered the Square. His message was built very much on the prosperity Gospel and was also a mish-mash of condemning statements, some of which really made me cringe. He had even made some rather disturbing advances towards some young girls. One of the girls I had spoken with previously commented on how much of a hypocrite she saw him to be. In contrast she was appreciative of the fact that we were preaching from the Bible and were sincere. She is not a Christian but to hear her say this encouraged me that God was helping her to see the truth. It was frustrating to hear this preacher say so many unhelpful and erroneous things. Talking amongst ourselves Rhea really encouraged me when she said that a little while ago, when another team had come into the Square to preach, a Muslim walking passed said to her that it was clear we preached with love and compassion, even though the other team of Christians did not. Of course I wish this was not so, but it shows that people can see when people are being sincere and loving and when they are not. Also, when you consider that each week we speak of hell and judgment, it is so encouraging to hear that people can still see that we care about them and want them to be saved.
We all had some great conversations. Rhea spoke with a gentleman who was visibly moved by what he heard. He said he would like to visit her church and he also took some tracts. Please pray for him! I spoke with a Muslim gentleman who told me that he was married to a Christian. He appeared quite liberal in much of what he believed and he also leaned heavily on an evolutionary understanding of the world. I found it very interesting when I took him through God's moral law. He had said that he believed himself to be a good person but when I asked if he had lied, stolen, etc, it was so evident that he was convicted and that his conscience was speaking to him. We got talking about evolution, etc, from that point on because he kept asking me questions about it, to which I answered as best I could, as I feel it is only right that we do answer their questions. However I had hoped that I would have had more time to expound on the Gospel. I was encouraged that he left with a John Blanchard booklet called "Ultimate Questions," which really opens up the Gospel well.
I also spoke with another Muslim who said that he is a relativist. He believed morality existed only for our survival and so laws are in place to protect us. Ultimately it is pragmatism that has shaped our value system and defined our moral code. We know something is wrong only because we have experienced certain practical consequences. We have seen how it affects us through the pain it brings and also through that which we end up losing.
But is this really true? Do we not intrinsically know that certain things are right and wrong? I believe we do. For example, I don't need to kill someone and then see the result of that before knowing it is wrong. To suggest that we only know murder is wrong because we realise after it happens that there are serious consequences for the person being murdered shows that we have no concept of the value of life and are incapable of making moral judgments before we do something. This of course is absurd because history and practise shows that we do value life. Ask anybody why they have become a doctor or fireman. Will they say they chose that profession simply to maintain a right balance in society so that we don't lose the people we need to function properly? No, they will say they chose that profession because they value life and want to protect people. Now, it is true that the non-Christian doctor or fireman does good works to show to themselves, and God, that they are good people worthy of accolade and Heaven, but even with this selfish attitude that drives them, they still know that what they are doing is good and praiseworthy.
You see, even though their motive is not good, they are still doing good because they want people (and God) to see that they are good. The fact that they want people to see they are good shows they do understand the intrinsic concept of good versus evil. Let me point out though that a non-Christian would undoubtedly say they have no selfish agenda and are doing good because they know it is the right thing to do and so are not trying to prove anything to anybody. This is not the case, but the point is, when pressed, a non-Christian would not say they are doing good to maintain societal balance, rather they would say they are doing good because they themselves are good. So in practise the truth is that people intrinsically know what is right and what is wrong. Morality is not a result of pragmatism. Of course, we do see people doing wrong, but this is not because they do not know it is right or wrong before they do it, rather they do it because they have a rebellious and sinful heart.
After explaining to him as best I could that we do intrinsically know what is right and wrong it was frustrating to see him deny it so strongly. He is certainly not the first relativist I have spoken to and he won't be the last. It is a predominant worldview today and we need to do our best to help them see the absurdity of what they are saying.
It was certainly a profitable evening. Do pray for all who heard the Gospel!
Soli Deo Gloria!