Efrem Smith, preacher, author and urban ministry advocate, delivered a challenging, uncomfortable and anointed message about evangelism, according to some of the thousands who attended or tuned in via a live webcast to the Exponential West Conference at Saddleback Church on Tuesday.
Smith, president and CEO of World Impact and author of The Post-Black and Post-White Church, preached a message titled “Rethinking Evangelism Through the Suffering,” making the case that the atrocities and painful conditions people experience today require a refocused approached to doing outreach.
He began by reading to the thousands in person and likely thousands more watching online, the description of the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual kingdom of God described in Revelation 7, specifically verses 9-17.
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands,” reads Rev. 7:9.
The author of the New Testament’s final book, identified as Jesus Christ’s “servant John,” goes on to relate in verse 13 being asked by an elder in this apocalyptic vision if he knows who “these in white robes” are and where they came from.
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” the elder is recorded as saying in verse 14.
Though he touched briefly on the image of diversity presented in the popular eschatological image, Smith instead used this verse, which he said was presented “through the lens of those who have been suffering,” to make a case for the upside-down way in which he has observed how some church leaders and ministers do evangelism.
“We live in a Bizarro world,” said Smith, making a comic book reference. He insisted that the reason why there is a need for church plants, teaching, and for churches to be missional was because this is an upside-down world.
“We live in a world that is tore up from the floor up,” he added.
Christians can no longer afford to walk around as if that isn’t the case. With issues like human trafficking, modern-day slavery, disease, arrogance, racism, sexism, broken marriages, and a slew of other problems, “we have an urgency to rethink evangelism on this planet,” said Smith.
That shift in thinking and method requires taking another look at how Jesus “demonstrated and declared what this world would be like if it was turned right-side up again.”
“Jesus demonstrated this with the marginalized, the broken, the outcast, the left-for-dead, [and] the oppressed to show us the kingdom of God,” said Smith, explaining that Jesus did not show preference for the privileged.
Smith suggested that, like the great multitude in white robes seen in Rev. 7:9, there were many people experiencing tribulation today in the form of slavery, persecution and martyrdom.
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SOURCE: The Christian Post