The third word that describes those who are gripped by the Gospel is desire. Those who are gripped by the Gospel have a great desire to share the Gospel.
“So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” Romans 1:15 (NKJV)
Paul had already visited some of the greatest cities of the world. Cities like Athens, Corinth and Ephesus and yet he had a great desire to visit one of the most populated, powerful and corrupt places on the earth at this time. He wasn’t intimidated by the size, power or the hostility that Rome was already showing toward this new religious movement. He had one great desire and that was to share the Gospel with as many people as possible.
In the New King James it says that he was ready to preach the Gospel. Ready may not be the best translation of this word. The word that is translated as ready carries with it the idea if having an urgent willingness. The English Standard Version translates it as eager. Paul was not only willing to share the Gospel with these people, but he was eager for the opportunity to do so. When he says “as much as in me” he is saying that there is nothing in his life that is hindering him from sharing the Gospel with them. The only reason he isn’t sharing the Gospel with them personally is because he hasn’t had the opportunity. He wasn’t hesitating. He wasn’t holding back. Given the opportunity he would share the Gospel with them.
Does this sort of eagerness describe you? When we have truly been gripped by the Gospel it will. Think about the many people that Jesus touched in the Gospels. The people that He healed them of leprosy, blindness, being crippled or the folks that came to Him and found that He was willing to forgive them for whatever they had done. Think about those instances and then think about what those people did after this.
How many of them went away quietly and never said a word about what Jesus had done for them unless they didn’t have any other choice? None of them did. In fact many times Jesus told them specifically NOT to tell people what He had done and they told anyway because they just couldn’t help themselves. Jesus had so radically impacted their lives that their natural response was to go and tell others about Him.
One of my favorite examples of this is the demon possessed man from the Gadarenes. In Mark 5 we are told the story of a man who is possessed by legions of demons. Jesus casts the demons out and the man then sits in his right mind at Jesus’ feet. When Jesus departed the area he wanted to go with Jesus. Jesus told him that he couldn’t go and rather than going he needed to go and tell people all the great things the Lord had done for him and how the Lord had compassion on him. The man did just that and all the people marveled. Now, who thinks that this man went and reluctantly told people about Jesus when he was cornered and couldn’t get out of it? No, I think he was eager to tell them about Jesus because Jesus had made a radical change in his life.
We see this same example in the book of Acts. Pretty much all the Christians in the book of Acts were faithful witnesses to the power and Gospel of Jesus. But it wasn’t any sort of forced issue. They didn’t see it as a burden they had to do. They had a great desire to tell people about Jesus and they did it everywhere they went.
“Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” (Acts 8:4 NKJV)
Everywhere they went they told people about Jesus. This is even more powerful when we know the context. Why were they scattered? They were scattered because of persecution. Persecution for the sake of the Gospel was so intense that they had to leave their homes and go somewhere else. Yet as they went they still were eager to share the Gospel despite the persecution that the Gospel had already brought them in the past and probably would bring them in the future.
Have you ever wondered why the early church was so eager and bold in sharing the Gospel and yet we are often so hesitant and timid? What has happened in the modern church to quench our desire to share the Gospel? When it comes to devotion to Jesus and desire to share the Gospel, why is the modern church so different than the early church?
Some will probably respond that the times are different and the world is different. Obviously this is true on some levels. But at the same time I can’t help but feel to resort to this answer without really thinking through these issues and examining ourselves is little more than a cop out. It is a way to ease our conscious without challenging our comfort.
If you eat at a good restaurant do you tell someone about it?
If you see a good movie do you tell someone about it?
If you read a good book do you tell someone about it?
In the Gospel we have the greatest good the world has ever known and yet many times people almost have to beat it out of us before we will tell them. When we are gripped by the Gospel we will desire to share the Gospel.