Listening to the “Phil Vischer” podcast earlier this week got me thinking – what labels do you use to describe your relationship with God? Regular contributor to the podcast Skye Jethani was lamenting the fact that not one of the descriptions of his followers on Twitter included the word ‘evangelical’. ‘Evangelical’ is a good word with its root meaning being, “the good news or the gospel”. Evangelical Christians (albeit a redundant phrase) are those who believe in the historical Jesus Christ as found in the gospel record. So, why is it a phrase which has fallen out of fashion?
Many will state that other phrases are better because they are baggage and stereotype free. Perhaps we could describe ourselves as faith-filled believers or people of faith, but so could any and every other faith system’s adherents (as there are many faith-filled Muslims, Jews or Mormons). Perhaps we could describe ourselves simply as believers, but that really says nothing other than we believe something to be true (which would also be said about those who swear to alien abductions). Perhaps we could describe ourselves as Christ-followers, which I admit is better, but requires a qualifier which answers the question of which Christ are you following (the abstract Christ of a mythical nature who serves as an archetype for moral behavior or the historical Christ who was born lived, suffered, died, rose and ascended according the Scripture).
The trouble, I admit, with the phrase ‘evangelical’ is the picture that word conjures in the mind – for me it is usually televangelists and Stepford families. In fact, when I first came to faith in Christ and decided upon a church to attend my brother-in-law, who was instrumental in introducing me to the Savior, asked if it was an evangelical church. I immediately said that it was not (it was). The truth is that I am an evangelical Christian. I am a follower of the Christ found in the Bible. I desire that everyone know the singular truth that no one comes to the Father except through Him. I am not a televangelist or a Bible thumper or a Jesus freak. I am a sinner saved by the grace of God who wants others to experience that saving grace as well.
I wonder what would happen if we who trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, according to truth contained in the inerrant Word of God, reclaimed the word ‘evangelical’ instead of running from it. What if the defining descriptor of our spiritual pilgrimage was the fact that we are committed to sharing the good news, the gospel, of the historical Jesus our Lord?
So, if you would excuse me, I have to change my description on Twitter.