We’re talking about a discipline of proclaiming the Gospel as a practice of faithful presence.

In the fellowship of the faithful, we might sometimes be tempted to think that we have moved beyond the simple Gospel truths. In reality, we never move beyond them, only “further up, and deeper in” as C. S. Lewis wrote.[1] As we discern the presence of Christ, as we proclaim the Good News of his faithful presence with us both in history and in the present and in the future, we learn what it means to live in light of his Lordship in every area of our lives together.

Now, I have a special responsibility to proclaim the Gospel every Sunday and connect every part of the Scriptures to the Good News, and teach what that means for our lives today. That’s a crucial part of my vocation as a pastor and priest, but each of you has a responsibility to faithfully proclaim the Gospel as well. We all need to be proclaiming the Gospel to one another.

When some of us are suffering, we need to hear together that God came to be with us. When some of us are guilty and full of shame, we need remind one another that we’re forgiven. When some of us begin to feel despair as society spirals out of control, we need to help each other see we’re part of a different Kingdom and we have a different King than the nations of this world. As each of us draws closer to physical death, we must continue to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death.

As we proclaim the Gospel to one another each Sunday,

we are placing ourselves and our situations under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.

As we gather in our home with Christians and non-Christians alike in an intentional way, there will always be opportunities to declare Jesus as Lord.

J.I. Packer said,

“Hospitality is the evangelism of the 21st century.”

As we open our lives to others by being faithfully present with our friends and neighbors, every situation, every conversation, will present opportunities to humbly witness to the Lordship of Jesus. There will come a moment, as we are faithfully present, where we will be called to say, “I have some Good News for you.”

Out in the world, we go as guests. Just like the disciples in Luke 10, we go in humility and weakness to be present first. Then we have a proclamation to make…and all we have to offer in that proclamation is Jesus. We are so tempted to bring own solutions to problems, our own ideas, our own skills to the table…but in the half circle, we are called set those things aside so we can witness to the Lordship of Christ above all.

St. Peter wrote,

…in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…

(1 Peter 3:15, ESV)

It starts by setting Jesus apart as holy—above all—in your heart. You are to treasure him above everything and anything else. You must believe—at the deepest level—that he truly is the Resurrected Son of God, he has saved the world, and this Good News demands urgently to be shared.

Without hopefulness, no one will ask you for the reason your life is different.

Without gentleness, you risk hurting those who need healing desperately.

Without respect, you may push away those that desire something more than what the world offers, but simply don’t know where to turn.

Living this out demands intentionality and relationship over time.

One more J.I Packer quote:

“The truth is that real personal evangelism is very costly, just because it demands of us a really personal relationship with the other man”[2] Brothers and sisters, in order to be faithful as we are present with one another, with our neighbors, and with the world, we must faithfully proclaim the Gospel.

[1] Lewis. The Last Battle.

[2] Packer. Evangelism & The Sovereignty of God, p. 82