(This article was written on August 2, 2005, two days after I heard “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” for the first time.)
It’s amazing the flack I’ve received as I’ve tried to witness to people about the love of Christ everyday—the flack that has come from Christians….
I’ve been writing E-vangie Tales for a year now and have received a lot of mostly positive feedback regarding these “evangelistic adventures”. I say “mostly positive” because on occasion, fellow believers tell me that they don’t like what I do or how I do it. They take issue with my “in your face” style, though I don’t think my style is really “in your face.” I really do try to take Peter’s charge seriously: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” (1Peter 3:15-16)
The problem I suspect is that I don’t wait around to be asked to give an answer. I want to tell about the hope I have now and I do it in many different ways. It’s these different ways that offend other Christians (the people I evangelize are rarely offended).
One pastor accused me of having no follow up. “I don’t see where Jesus just said to preach the Gospel!” he said accusingly.
Actually, Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15) I just stop short of witnessing to a cactus.
Another man said my exegesis was all wrong. “You know when Paul said ‘that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day’, he was speaking to a pagan culture who didn’t know the Gospel and was trying to speak to them in their own language. What are you trying to do?”
I asked one lady what she thought of my latest adventure and as she picked it out of the trash she said, “I don’t read your “E-vangie Tales. I don’t agree with what you’re doing.”
A young man in ministry wrote, “I used to be the old school: handing out tracts, open air preaching, just introducing myself and talking about Jesus straight away…all those methods have there place, but I [learned] an important lesson: People don’t care what you know, until they know that you care.” Then he told me how I should do it.
I always try to give the Gospel with gentleness and respect, and usually the person I’m telling about Christ welcomes the conversation. Evangelism though, is necessarily “in your face”. To tell people that they are sinners is “in your face.” To tell them that they are going to Hell if they don’t repent and have their sins forgiven is the most “in your face” thing anyone can say.
Even if you tell them nicely. And smile.
No matter how you say it, the bad news before the good news ain’t nice. To tell people that their relativistic beliefs are wrong ain’t nice. To tell people that Jesus is the only way ain’t nice.
I’m reminded of a story that evangelist D.L. Moody told:
A woman came up to him one time and said, “I really don’t like your method of evangelism.”
He responded, “Ma’am, I don’t like my method that much myself. What’s your method?”
“I don’t have one,” she answered.
Moody then replied, “I like my method better.”