I wrote this for a Bible Truths lesson on evangelism:
…that’s the extent of your responsibility—just faithfully, clearly, and lovingly deliver the message. The Bible compares evangelists to heralds, people whose job it was to journey to a faraway place and announce what the king had said.
After I wrote that I realized that John Frame was getting to me. “Faithfully, clearly, and lovingly” are Frame’s three perspectives: normative, situational, and existential. To deliver the message faithfully is to make it adhere to the norm of what God actually said. To communicate the message clearly is to speak appropriately to your situation—whether a doorstep in West Greenville or a cellphone call to a friend. To give the gospel lovingly is the only appropriate existential state for you to be in: the Great Commission must go hand in hand with the Great Commandments.
I picked up the huge Frame festschrift the other day, and my leafing so far has led me to several others who have made Frame’s perspectives a little mental checklist for completeness when talking about anything ethical or moral.
Perhaps this post should have started here, but all Frame is saying is that every ethical/moral decision necessarily involves three elements (he calls them “perspectives” for reasons I can’t get into here!): a person applying a norm to a situation. That seems like a pedestrian observation until you see how helpful it is in analyzing your decisions.
“How do I evangelize?” is one of those decisions. “Faithfully, clearly, and lovingly” don’t exhaust my responsibilities, but they do exhaust the categories. They make sure I have thought about my person as well as my norm and my situation.
Perhaps the “situation” is the perspective that I most often failed to read until the last few years. Others evangelize without proper attention to the norm of what the gospel is or without due regard to the attitude of love they ought to have toward others. Blogging about such things may seem like a waste of time in light of the needs in the world, but without some reflection on the three perspectives our man-hours can be poorly invested.