I recently read an article by David Brickner called “Outside the Camp” in the Jews for Jesus October newsletter. It was some pretty strong stuff. He spoke about how many Christians today feel that in order to “earn” the ability to share the gospel with a non-believer, we must first establish a relationship with them thereby gaining their acceptance. In fact, he says “the idea that people must accept us before they can accept Y’shua (Jesus) can actually become a subtle kind of pride that we fail to recognize in ourselves and fellow believers.” Hmmm. I’ve mulled over this article for a couple of weeks now.
The first time I read the article, I got about three paragraphs into it and thought, gosh this all seems a bit harsh, right? I mean I can’t just go randomly barreling up to someone and start blurting out the gospel. They’ll think I’m a freak and nothing I say will get in. But then it hit me…okay so which bothers me more? The idea that the gospel I share won’t be heard or the idea that someone might think I’m a freak? Ouch, gut punch.
We’ve been preached to by the mainstream media about how we (we meaning the American people) must be tolerant of each other and to be anything otherwise is politically incorrect. I’ve also read recently somewhere (wish I could remember where) about how as Christians, we sometimes water down our gospel because we don’t want to seem narrow-minded. I mean, goodness…if I tell my Muslim friend that the only way she will get to heaven is by believing in Jesus thereby implying that what she believes is false, well that makes me seem intolerant and arrogant, right? Well, tell that to the Muslim that you tolerated all the way to hell.
See, if we start to steer away from what the Bible says and begin to tolerate other belief systems and other religions, we are in essence deceiving ourselves and others. Jesus was pretty clear when He said in John 14:6 that He was in fact THE way, THE truth, and THE life…and that no one comes to the Father except by HIM.
Now let me be clear when I say that being intolerant of someone else’s beliefs does not mean that we are supposed to treat them badly. As Mr. Brickner says, we shouldn’t “treat unbelievers like enemies, nor should we be ‘unrelational,’ unfriendly or rude.” On the contrary. We should be full of grace and mercy…but we should also be full of truth.
Think of it like this. If a random stranger had been bitten by a poisonous snake whose venom would surely kill them and you had the antidote in your hand, would you just stand there and watch them die? Of course not. So why then are we so eager to remain silent in the face of someone who is destined for the eternal pit of flames? (And when I say “we” I am most certainly including myself because I can unfortunately think of more occasions than I care to where I have held my tongue.)
I was coming home this morning from dropping my son off at school and I got behind a car that had one of those “COEXIST” bumper stickers. You know the ones…they have the Islamic moon and star symbol, the star of David, the cross, and a peace sign – the implication being, “can’t we all just get along?” Sounds lovely doesn’t it? Ah, yes. That we would all live in peace – Muslims, Jews, Christians, etc. – and just hold hands and sing Kumbaya in perfect harmony. We would all be friends and quietly respect each others’ religions and then nobody would be at war and nobody would be persecuted. There’s just one big problem there. We’d be putting tolerance over salvation…and we’d be standing idly by while all those people continue meandering down the wide road (Matthew 7:13). Jesus was more concerned with making believers than He was making friends.
So what stops us from sharing the gospel? Fear of rejection? Do we think Jesus doesn’t understand rejection? Jesus was rejected by people He’d known all his life. Fear of persecution? Do we think believers in China don’t understand persecution? There are people in China in prison right now for what they believe. Fear of being called a freak? Do you think people thought Ezekiel was a freak? He laid around in the dirt and cooked bread over a fire made with poop (Ezekiel 4)…okay so that was a little weird but do you think Ezekiel cared what anybody but God thought of him? See here’s the bare bones of it…which matters more – our image or someone else’s eternity? We act like we have all the time in the world to win friends and influence people and AFTER we’ve established a relationship and have built up an element of trust, THEN eventually at some point we will get around to sharing the gospel. The truth is, time is not on our side in this case. Oh Lord, that You would impress upon our hearts an urgency to share Your word in these last days. Father, forgive us for the times we’ve kept quiet about You, when we’ve seeing someone dying and kept Life to ourselves. Give us boldness to speak Your name no matter what it costs us.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel,
for it is the power of God for salvation to
everyone who believes…
Is there someone in your life that you know God has called you to share the gospel with but you’ve been putting it off, waiting for just the right moment?
What is stopping you?