In the comic strip “Peanuts”, Lucy tells her brother, Linus that she has “converted” a school classmate to her way of thinking religiously. Linus is surprised, especially knowing how Lucy operates!
“How did you do it?” Linus asked.
“I told him everything I believe and asked him if he believed it, too.” Lucy explained. “Then when we came to something he didn’t see my way, I just hit him over the head with my lunch box until he believed it!”
I supposed we’ve all witnessed that kind of evangelism. Oh, not literally hitting someone over the head with a lunch box, or anything else. But evangelism that is aggressive. Belligerent. And even insulting.
In a world that says we ought to keep our faith private, God wants us to take the saving Gospel of Christ into all the world (Mk. 16;15-16). We should not be ashamed of the gospel, or Jesus Christ. When first century Christians were persecuted they did not recoil or recant, but went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).
However, there is a right way to seek converts. And a wrong way! The apostle Paul gives this inspired advice that would improve our evangelistic efforts.
“Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Col. 4:5-6, NASU)
In these two verses there are four things we can do to be more effective when sharing our faith with others
(1) Exercise wisdom. Knowledge is obviously important in teaching others about Christ, but effective outreach also requires wisdom. Sound judgment. Prudence. Understanding.
Wisdom seeks understand others. Their point of view. Background. Religious experiences. Spiritual problems. And biblical understanding.
(2) Be Aware of Opportunities. There are many seekers in this world today. Hurting souls. Depressed souls. Lost souls. They feel empty on the inside. They are searching for something, but not sure what it is.
Christians have the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus. And to lead people into a spiritual relationship that will change their lives and bless them eternally.
We need to seek opportunities to share our faith. See the opportunities when they present themselves. And then seize the opportunities that we see.
(3) Employ gracious speech. Hypercritical, unkind language does not win people to Christ. While we are commanded to “speak the truth” to those who need to hear it, the Bible says to do it in the spirit of love. (Eph. 4:16).
I can content for the faith without being contentious. I can disagree without displaying a disagreeable spirit. I can affirm the truth without being obnoxious. I can differ without being difficult. And I can persuade without being pushy,
(4) Respond instead of react to others. When I react to what someone with whom I disagree, it is almost always negative. Without forethought, it is too easy to spout off and hurt another’s feelings. Antagonize them. Or erect a barrier that can never be eradicated.
Maybe the best suggestion I an offer in sharing your faith is this. Read yesterday’s post on what it means to be a Christian. Then work to be the Good News, before you Share the Good News!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman