I’ve been checking my Facebook newsfeed more in the past few days than I have in the last couple months combined, and I’m filled with sadness over the response of some people I thought were Christians, but have obviously departed from the Gospel. I’m super thankful for my old pastor and his thoughts, as well as my current pastor and his video. But I’ve also been concerned about the response of other Christians.
As I was watching people’s responses and examining my own angry thoughts about the SCOTUS decision, I couldn’t help but think what is the purpose in what we are posting and saying? What is our goal? Are we trying to avoid persecution? Are we trying to convince people that we are being mistreated? Are we trying to evangelize? Can anyone come to faith by our giving crafty arguments against same-sex marriage?
A few years ago, I was out doing street evangelism for one of the first times in my life in Italy, and I walked up to a market place where a guy named Mario (yes that’s a common name in Italy) was selling shoes. When I walked up you could tell he was a bit bothered by it, but since it looked like he wasn’t having a very successful day selling shoes I engaged him in conversation. I didn’t even have time to introduce myself before he asked me what religion I was. Before I could answer he said, “You’re not a Jehovah’s witness are you?!” I said “No!” Then he asked, ” You’re not a Mormon are you!?!” I said “no! I’m a Bible believing Christian!” and without hesitation he said, “Oh, I know who you are! You’re the people who don’t believe that Mary was taken up into heaven!” I said, “Well it’s not really in the Bible.” He said, “Of course it is, it’s in Acts!” So I told him that I was reading through the entire Bible in a ten week Bible school and that I had just finished reading Acts, and although I was reading quickly, I assured him that it wasn’t anywhere in there. He grabbed my Bible and flipped through it fast. I told him I’d be back the next day, so he said, “Ok come back tomorrow and I’ll show you where it is.”
As I approached him the next day, excited to have won an argument, he started shouting, “I have no interest in talking with you! The priest lied to me! I don’t want to talk!” After a couple minutes of trying to reason with him, I quickly realized I wasn’t going to be able to share the Gospel with him. Somewhere in Italy right now there’s a man named Mario who no longer believes that Mary was brought up to heaven. Yet he has never heard the Gospel and without someone to share the truth of the Gospel with him, he will die and go to Hell.
People ask me all the time to pray for their family members for salvation. My response is always, “I’d love to, but have you shared the Gospel with them? “Well…” they say, “…once we had a conversation about abortion” or “I talked with them about how homosexuality is sinful!” or “we talked about how stupid it is to go confess your sins to a priest.” Although all of these things are true, none of these things can lead someone to salvation. We must explain the truth of the Gospel.
It’s time to stop trying to change people’s minds about secondary matters, and share with them the only thing that can give them eternal peace.
I recently got to lead a small group through II Timothy chapter 2, and it’s fascinating to see how Paul ends the chapter. He says, “24 The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, 25 with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, 26 and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
It’s not only a great reminder to see that they are blind and need to come to their senses. It’s not only a great reminder that we need to be gentle, patient, able to teach and be kind. But, I think a reminder that we need today is that knowledge of the truth comes after God grants someone repentance. We always try to invert the two. God needs to grant repentance and then someone will be saved and start believing rightly about life matters–not the other way around.
There was a campus minister who had a student ask him to share the Gospel with his roommate, who was an outspoken atheist. Upon entering the room and introducing himself, the student answered back with, “I will never believe in a book that says that a man survived three days in the stomach of a fish!” He wisely overlooked that comment and shared the Gospel with the student. The student believed the Gospel and after talking for a while the minister asked, “Didn’t you have a question about Jonah?” The student thought about it for a minute and said, “Well, if it’s in the Bible I believe it.”
God has ordained to save people through the hearing of the Gospel, so let’s boldly approach people in face to face conversation and give them the only information that can save them from not only demonic worldviews, but more importantly from an eternity in Hell.