Tuesday, January 14, 2014

How To Open People's Ears To The Gospel

30 The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. 32 “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” – Luke 5:30–32 (NASB95)
I could not figure Brenda out. She was wealthy and intelligent. She had an exciting social life married to a leading Australian businessman. What was she thinking inviting us for a meal and discussion? At no point was this teacher pushy or preachy. Her style was completely relaxed and incredibly generous. When her VCR went missing one day, she made almost nothing of it, even though she suspected (quite reasonably) it was [someone from] our group. For me, her open, flexible, generous attitude toward us "sinners" was the doorway into a life of faith. As we ate and drank and talked, it was clear this was no missionary ploy on her part. She truly cared for us and treated us like friends or, perhaps more accurately, like sons. As a result, over the course of the next year, she introduced several of us from the class to the ultimate "friend of sinners," Jesus. – John Dickson, The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission (Zondervan, 2010 ), pp. 51-52
If you take a look at how Jesus went about teaching the gospel, he did it by means of friendship, love, and simply being kind to people. I know. We tend to focus on his famous confrontations with Pharisees, and he did have them. But it was mainly because they weren’t interested, and worse, they were enemies out to kill him. He was hardest on those who claimed to be friends of God. They weren’t.

But look closely at the four gospels. Over and over, Jesus dines with sinners, visits with them in conversations, tells stories to illustrate truth, and dispenses grace and mercy everywhere he went. The reason children liked to be around him is that he was easy to be with. It’s the same reason sinners and tax collectors liked to be with him.

The big question is why don’t we learn from Jesus. We keep thinking evangelism depends on some method or formula. We keep holding workshops to teach the latest “secret” techniques. We need to just be more like Jesus. Be a friend to sinners. Be kind to people, love them, act graciously and mercifully. That opens ears like nothing else.