I guess it’s natural in times like these to think of eternity.
One million years from now, what will I be glad of? In ten million, will I wish I spent my time here differently?
On Monday after the funeral hundreds of family and friends gathered at the Larson house to celebrate and remember the life of Tyson Larson. Out of the thousands of conversations that took place there, one I took part in lodged a place in my brain and has been with me since. The conversation was with an uncle, a cousin, and my mother.
The uncle was Uncle Jack. He stood with his arm in a constant hug around my cousin, Katie Larson, while my mom leaned in against them. He spoke with tears quietly waiting behind his eyes:
I have so many friends. I have a thousand friends. I have friends comin’ out the ears. But the reason I have so many friends is because I’m not bold enough to confront them about their lives. I’m too afraid to share the gospel.
And though he only meant to speak of his struggle, he nailed us all.
Because often we are very good at being relational and terrible at evangelism, when the blatant truth is that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Ultimately, the pithy quote ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi is not biblical—“Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary” – and is usually a copout for those of us who fear sharing the gospel.
The simple, terrifying truth is that if people don’t hear the gospel, they don’t get saved—it doesn’t matter how moral your life is. Faith comes by hearing. Someone needs to speak up.
Relationships with people have eternal consequences because people last forever.
But to have the message of hope that has the power to save the wickedest sinner and not share it is unloving. To neglect the only possible news that can satisfy them forever is actually much closer to hate. Even if we succeed in making them have higher moral standards we will have accomplished nothing eternal. The most loving and eternally valuable action we can ever take toward an unbeliever is evangelism. And that means speaking the gospel to the lost.
The gospel is the story the God-man Jesus Christ coming to a people who didn’t deserve him to give them a gift they didn’t want.
And it was the most loving act in all of history.
It’s our example.
If the gospel shapes our attitude, we will not be “preachy” in a self-righteous way. If the gospel is properly understood it will demolish any semblance of self-righteousness. Evangelism can’t happen with this poison– it contradicts the message of free, unmerited grace. The gospel is good news. Incredible, life-changing, eternity altering, soul-satisfying news. And if we believe it, we will lovingly evangelize with slave-like humility, sage-like patience, and lamb-like gentleness. The gospel-driven life—that is, the Christian life—is both relational and truth-telling.
Thanks Uncle Jack for the reminder. Thanks Ty for making it stick. This is just one way this tragedy is reshaping our family. Praise God.
O how I pray that God would give us eyes to see that which is eternally valuable!