7/30/12 Henry, about 35
I think "spreading the word", like many religious cliches, has lost a lot of its original meaning among Christians. Today I met Henry, 35, a Pentecostal from Zimbabwe, who confidently told me that he will go to heaven and the number one way to make sure of this is to "spread the word". I wondered what kind of "word" he was spreading so I asked "Suppose I had been an unbeliever asking you how I can be sure I will go to Heaven when I die. What would you tell me?" "Well you need to go to church and study the Bible and just become really knowledgeable about God. Just like a lawyer needs to study law, Christians need to learn all about God." No mention of sin, repentance, faith, forgiveness, Jesus or the cross. Now I know from experience that anyone who teaches has to learn their subject matter far beyond what they actually communicate to their students, and in the same way there is nothing like actively sharing the Gospel to help sharpen and deepen a Christian's understanding of God's word. Henry, clearly, has not been "spreading the word". Later in our conversation, he told me this involves being very friendly and setting a really good example so people can see what Christianity is all about. However, when I reminded him of how we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, he was quick to affirm these beliefs as if it just goes without saying. But the Gospel doesn't just go without saying. It does require words. "Spreading the word" really does mean spreading the word.