A few years ago, as I passed through London’s Leicester Square, I noticed that a crowd had gathered around a man who was using a drawing board, which had some sort of a graphic riddle on it, to get people’s attention. I stopped just in time to see the riddle solved and was thrilled to find that it concerned Jesus Christ and the salvation that He offers to mankind.
The man conducting this evangelistic outreach turned from his drawing board to the crowd, and in some of the harshest tones I’ve ever heard, began pronouncing damnation upon his audience. As you can imagine, it was only a matter of seconds before the crowd, initially numbering around fifty people, was reduced to two. I was one of the two.
As I stood there listening to the man rant and rave, I thought to myself, What a tragedy. This man thinks he’s preaching the gospel, but in reality, he’s doing a great disservice to the cause of the kingdom. At that moment, the man approached me, and in that same harsh tone, asked if I wanted to be saved. I assured him that I was saved and asked if I might give him a bit of advice based on my observation of his evangelistic method. Although he made it clear that he wasn’t interested in what I had to say, even expressing doubts about my salvation, I felt compelled to challenge him about the way he was misrepresenting God. I began by saying, “Have you ever thought to tell people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives …?” Before I could go any further, he pronounced me a heretic and stomped off, calling down judgments upon me.
Although this is somewhat of an extreme example of the wrong way to evangelize, I’m afraid this type of thing happens far too often. Just the other day, I saw a man carrying a large wooden cross down a busy street, forcing literature upon people as they passed by. Once again, I couldn’t help but think how that kind of approach was so unlike Jesus and the apostles.
As Christians, we have the great privilege and responsibility of sharing the gospel with those who don’t yet know the Lord. However, we must make sure that we are sharing it in a way that properly represents our Lord. The apostle Paul, in writing to the church of Thessalonica, said, We were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives (1 Thessalonians 2:7-8).
This was Paul’s approach to people. This was also the approach of Jesus, who said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden … for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:28-29). This is something that Lloyd and I were so powerfully reminded of as we sought to bring hope and peace to the multitudes in New York City whose world had been turned upside down by the events of September 11, 2001.
This message was born out of those experiences. I was tremendously blessed as I read it, and I know you will be too. It is timely and reminds us once again that God’s love is the greatest power in the universe.
Pastor Brian Brodersen
CALVARY CHAPEL COSTA MESA, CA