I listened to the testimony of an adult woman from Guatemala. She is 2nd from the left in the image. Her journey to faith brought me to tears, and once again aroused my desire to help other people share the good news of Jesus Christ. As you read or listen her story, ask yourself this question: Where would you start with the gospel? Genesis 3, or Genesis 1?
She was born into a family of extreme third world poverty in rural Guatemala.
If you have visited areas of poverty, you know that that looks like.
You know what it smells like.
You know how oppressive it is and how devaluing poverty can me.
Poverty is around me regularly when I visited the developing nations of Central America.
Poverty formed her belief.
Her extreme poverty helped her form a core belief of her worldview.
God does not exist.
In her thinking:
- If God existed, she wouldn’t be that poor.
- If God existed, He would care for her and help her escape that poverty.
Other variants included:
- If God existed, He is punishing her with poverty for her sins.
- If God existed, she can’t escape his wrath because she’s so poor.
- If God existed, His anger toward her keeps her poverty and unable to escape.
She simply choose to believe that God did not exist. She endured her poverty and her lack of education. She carried as sense of shame and worthlessness growing up, because of her poverty.
She didn’t complete school. She had children and got married. She and her husband both became alcoholics.
Since God doesn’t exist, why does it matter? If God existed, He would care for me. Therefore, God doesn’t exist.
What would you say to my friend?
What would you say to share the gospel with my friend?
Some Christian evangelism approaches argue that one MUST start with our sinfulness. They are Genesis 3 Christians.
A Genesis 3 Christian would start with her sinfulness. She is an enemy of God, separated from Him, worthy of hell because of her sin. Judgment will be upon her sin. She’s broken nearly all the 10 commandments and worthy of God’s wrath.
A Genesis 3 Christians would start with the bad news of her sinfulness. A Genesis 3 Christian would start with her sin, her alcoholism, and her general unbelief as an offense against God.
A Genesis 3 Christian would tragically ignore the fact that the world has condemned my friend already. She carries a mental tape of her unworthiness already. She would listen to a Genesis 3 Christian and only hear “you are a sinner” and that would conform to her image of a cruel God and her low sense of value.
A different way
A Genesis 1 Christian would begin at a different starting point. They’d start with “made in the image of God.”
A Genesis 1 Christian would start with God’s love – the value that God gives to a person because they are made in the image of God.
A Genesis 1 Christian gives a person a sense worth in the eyes of God before talking about our separation from God.
A Genesis 1 Christian affirms the dignity of the person they speak to, before getting into the consequences of sin.
What my friend needed and received
Fourteen year ago, God brought several Genesis 1 type Christians into the life of my friend. She began to hear about the love of God. She began to hear about how the Holy Spirit could help her change and live a Godly life. She began to hear how important she was to God. She began to hear how Jesus Christ died and rose again to reconcile her to God.
14 years ago, her monthly period stopped. She wasn’t bothered by it. She just assumed that her obesity caused it stop. She and her husband kept drinking. Then one day, she began to hemorrhage. She rushed to the clinic where she delivered an unhealthy baby girl.
When she held the child, many of those conversations with Genesis 1 Christians came to mind. At that moment, my Guatemalan friend surrendered her life to Jesus in that hospital room. She offered herself to the Love of Christ as the Spirit of God overwhelmed her in that moment.
She got sober. She surrendered herself to the love of Jesus Christ.
She introduced her husband to Jesus and he went sober too.
Her family is now involved full time in Christian ministry.
That baby girl is now a healthy teenager.
Are you a Genesis 1 Christian, or a Genesis 3 Christian?
Where you start with the gospel makes a big difference in how you are heard.
There are times when the gospel must start with sin.
There are times when the gospel must start with the sovereign love of God.
Don’t get hung up on the theology of where to start.
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