Lack of Experience, Lack of Pasión
Guest Post: This post was written by Ana, a former student leader and now current intern with Destino in Texas.
I found Jesus in college after a failed suicide attempt in my dorm room. I had been struggling with an addiction I believed I would be bound to forever. I felt hopeless; I would never be able to obtain freedom from it. As I sat there in the ER listening to a kindhearted doctor tell me about a God that loved me and had a wonderful plan for my life in the midst of my addiction and depression, my heart ached for a new life in which complete freedom was possible.
Well Jesus transformed not only my life, but my entire family. When I encountered the Gospel, I hadn’t just heard the words, but I had powerfully experienced them. I had experienced a God that loved me, that was capable and willing to rescue me, forgive me, transform me, and transform those around me. How could I not speak to those around me about Jesus? I passionately started to talk to anyone I encountered because I knew that the Jesus that had changed my life wanted to change theirs too. They needed to experience what I was experiencing!
My new relationship with Jesus eventually led me to become involved in Destino. At that time, while I was growing in my relationship with the Lord and surrounded by other believers, something unexpected was happening. I had received training to help me express to others the Gospel more effectively, but instead of feeling empowered I felt restrained. The words I was saying felt unnatural and unfamiliar; my words an imitation of the genuine expressions that had flown from my heart previously. While I could communicate the Gospel more clearly and concisely, it was no longer my experience. While it was the truth, it wasn’t my truth and my experience. It was easier to become detached from the Gospel, and keep from sharing it. Instead of the training serving as a supplement to my experience with the Gospel, it was replacing it.
The polemic ideas presented in chapter four in the book Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, give some insight into what was occurring in my life at the time. Roland Allen explores the notion that as a church we are scared. Tenemos miedo. We are afraid that if we allow people to share what they have experienced of the Gospel then we won’t maintain our doctrinal standard. We are afraid that our standard of doctrine will undoubtedly be compromised if we fail to train according to the guidelines we esteem so highly.
What if in their eagerness for sharing their experience with others they say something that is contrary to our accepted beliefs or doctrine? Instead of depending on the Spirit to guide new believers, we separate the experience from the Gospel, we supply training that will make sharing the Gospel with others a streamlined process, and the results are new believers who feel no passion for evangelism. Just as Allen states in his writings, the more separated my experience became from the Gospel, the less passion I felt for sharing Jesus with others.
The Gospel separated from an experience lacks power; it is “nothing more than the statement of an intellectual theory.” While it expresses the truth, it becomes incomplete and meaningless without anyone willing to bear witness to its life-giving power. Experience of the love and forgiveness of Christ, and not just an intellectual understanding of His doctrine, naturally produces passion. Una pasión por Cristo that is genuinely convincing and heart-stirring. Witnessing to what Jesus continues to do in us and in others is nothing to be afraid of. Instead, an experience should be welcomed as an essential part of the Gospel, not withheld because of our fear.
- What are some ways in which you are helping students to experience the Gospel?
- How can we better equip students to share the Gospel, without disregarding the very experiences that originally sparked their desire to share Jesus with others?
- How can you help students identify how their own life experiences connect to the Gospel?