Two Popes and Two Christs
I’ve not seen the movie yet.
Perhaps you have.
The Netflix production of “The Two Popes” is highly acclaimed. It poses a dramatic guess of what Popes Benedict and Francis may have discussed during the time around 2013 as they assumed the Roman Papacy in tandem; the older Benedict having little in common with his younger apostolic successor, Pope Francis.
I’d like to pose a rather different guess of my own involving a possible conversation between Jesus and a modern day evangelist, someone Jesus might consider a candidate to follow him in the ways of Christian evangelism going into all the world.
To make it interesting, why not consider what they might say to each other about how to best win people to Christ? Were I an actual playwriter myself, I’d imagine a dialogue such as this:
CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL> We in conservative Christian circles have learned a lot about this from our brothers and sisters in our Capitalist society who must sell their products within a targeted market. We’ve found the best way to win souls for Christ is to help them see the eternal consequences of their sinful condition. We incorporate Paul’s 4 Spiritual Laws and the Roman Road into the sales presentation in ways that our targeted prospects can be led to
* admit they have sinned and fallen short of your glory,
* admit they are damned to an eternal conscious torment in hell upon facing your own righteous judgment,
* agree to accept your having provided their salvation in substitution for their required eternal punishment with your own blood upon the cross as you died for their sins,
* agree to believe that your grace upon the cross has purchased their right to live in heaven with you for all eternity upon their death in this earthly body and upon passing your righteous judgment.
Then, in keeping with these sacred marketing techniques, we close the sale by leading our prospects in the sinner’s prayer, confessing their sinful condition, stating their own faith in your sacrifice, and asking for your forgiving grace and acceptance into their heavenly reward.
CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL> We’ve also learned from our friends in America’s business community that it’s highly important to do follow up after the sale. This is why we direct our new customers, or your new believers as we prefer to call them, to take those first steps as baby Christians and begin reading your Word in the company of a faithful Bible believing Church. This is where we can perform the Baptism and get your new believers assimilated into the faith.
JESUS> Hmmmm. But what about the cost of discipleship?
CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL> Oh, yes, I forgot to mention something. As a Baptized member into assimilation within the local congregation, lessons on tithing from the book of Malachi will be incorporated into the work of making this new believer into a disciple who regularly tithes to the ministry. A book of offering envelopes will be supplied as part of our follow-up work. We never forget that important work for you, Jesus.
JESUS> You don’t get it, do you? While serving the gods of American Capitalism and their false christs of evangelistic marketing, you appear not to be following me. Perhaps I should first win you to Christ so you could then help me in bringing heaven into them on earth now before you all die. Would you like your own “come to Jesus” meeting right here and now?
CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL> Huh?
JESUS> Have you not heard it said? “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me, for those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it.” Perhaps you should turn in your Holy Bible to Matthew 16:25. And at the risk of redundancy, try Mark 8:35, Luke 9:24 and 17:33. I thought I was being clear and was getting through to those claiming to care about winning others to Christ. You can also look up John 12:24-26, if you wish to read past John 3:16 in that Gospel.
CHRISTIAN EVANGELICAL> Hmmmm. But what about the 4 Spiritual Laws and the Romans Road?
JESUS > Pardon me while I shake this dust off these sandals of mine. It’s time for me to go visiting whomever my next appointment may be.