“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”.
The Great Commission is a well-known passage that has fueled the migration of thousands of Christian missionaries throughout the world for thousands of years. But that is a missionary’s job, right? A student majoring in Information Technology at OBU would then be exempt from this command since they aren’t being trained in exegetical hermeneutics or cross-cultural ministry, right? The Gospel may make more people Christians which is good for them after they die, but as long as they hear it before they die it will do them just as much good, right? Well, that is where you would be wrong.
While belief in the good news of what Jesus did on the cross is essential for aligning yourself with Christ, which determines how God will see your sin after you die (paid for, versus requiring just punishment). But a full understanding of who Jesus was affects much more than just our standing with God after we die. The Gospel is one of the most practical applications of healing, hope, and justice that we can apply to our world right now. One of the most profound examples of the Gospel’s healing is in the healthcare field of infant loss counseling.
The book Loving Samuel: Suffering, Dependence, and the Calling of Love, was written by Aaron D. Cobb and his wife after they lost their infant son, Samuel, to Trisomy 18. This is a genetic disorder that carries a 90-95% mortality rate before the first year of life. While the Cobb couple received the troubling diagnosis before the birth of baby Samuel, they decided to continue to love their son up until the disease should take him.
In a quote reflecting on the influence of their Christian faith on their experience of grief, Aaron Cobb says, “The virtue of hope is necessary because we face great difficulties that cannot possibly be overcome in our own lives. Securing ultimate goods as well as victory over these evils is a gift to be received not a conquest to be achieved through strength alone. In the midst of sorrow, it is the virtue of hope that gives one the vision to see the source of these gifts even if they are not at present available to be received”.
The Cobbs reflect extensively on the coping and healing that was made possible through their hope in the Gospel and in God’s intervention on the cross and in their own lives.
Likewise, in a contracted study of pregnancy with a nursing professor, Rebecca Coon explained how modern secular hospitals and counseling centers are encouraging the use of the Gospel in patient care of couples/parents experiencing infant loss. Statistically, there is a significant increase in hopefulness and recovery as opposed to other cultural or clinical interventions. This practical and current application of healing through the Gospel is one example from millions that illustrate the immediate change capable through the Gospel. The Gospel provides an avenue of personal healing and not only the future impact it can have on one’s soul.
Tim Keller in his article, “The Centrality of the Gospel”, points out a very important caveat to the healing we are given on this Earth.
Keller says, “The “already” of grace means that Christians can expect to use God’s power to change social conditions and communities. But the “not yet” of sin means [that]… selfishness, cruelty, terrorism, and oppression will continue”.
Keller brings out the sometimes frustrating paradox of Christian faith: we have such a great hope whose effects we can see even now, but of whose fullness we don’t experience. As Christians and carriers of this great current hope and hope to come, it is our great responsibility to bring this healing and hope to the rest of our brothers and sisters of humanity who otherwise would only experience the great cruelty of this world with no hope.
Yes, a degree in cross-cultural ministry or exegetical hermeneutics would be beneficial in helping you to better understand God’s word and share it with those around you, but the only requirement to be an evangelist is personally understanding both the current healing and the future hope that the Gospel brings to everyone who accepts it.