“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to respond to each person appropriately.”
Each human being whose form we see, whose voice we hear, or with whom our lives otherwise touch, is a unique person, created by the Holy Trinity in the image of God. They are not individual numbers or statistics walking around, they are persons, with all the wonder and dignity attendant to being created images of God, and we are to treat them as such: each one a person unique from all the rest and special to God.
Evangelistic “programs” or “methods” are actually insulting to the creation of God and dismissive of the personality of human beings. Each human being should be treated by all the rest as a unique creation of the Holy and Majestic Trinity, as a fellow person. Each human being should be personally related to by every other – not spoken to or not-related to by using a pre-established method. It is wrong to design a method so that we can approach human beings, not as persons whom we should regard as living, walking, talking images of God, and with whom we should share, with reverence and love, the wonder we have known, the Love that has captured our hearts, but as things to be converted to something with a method already designed and memorized! This is not, of course, to condemn all tracts or the handing out of literature. Sometimes, there is not time to have a drawn-out discussion! Sometimes, handing something out to read is a good way to approach a person! Sometimes, a person is much more comfortable reading about Jesus than having a conversation with us. Thus, tracts can be a way to actually show respect and love to other persons, to respond to them appropriately. Conversationally, though, a pre-planned conversation, of leading someone through so many steps, or through first this presentation of sin and then this metaphor and then this explanation, or whatever it is, is to treat human beings not as persons, but as more or less identical things. Furthermore, each person has a different personality, a different understanding, and a different background. Each will not understand, still less understand easily, the same things, still less the same things in the same order. God does not relate to us all like a pack of more or less identical robots, but reveals Himself differently to each in Jesus Christ, and we should also be ready, willing, and desiring to relate to each person and to share with each person in the way appropriate to that special and unique person.
Programmed approaches or methods for sharing the Gospel do a grave irreverence to Jesus. It gives rather the impression that we are trying to persuade people of their need for a commodity we have, than that we are in love with Jesus, and we find Him so lovely we want to share Him with the whole world, and that we love the person we are speaking to, and so we want them to have this wonderful good that we have found! It causes us to appear more as salesmen or corporate advertisers than as lovers and admirers of the most lovely Person. Rather, we should be so full of Jesus, thinking of Him always, for the infatuation of a couple with one another is but an image of the obsession we should have with Jesus, so that it is the most natural thing in the world for us to seek another person out, and then share with them about this wonderful Person we know! People are always eager to share about what they love or admire most; nature-lovers will speak to you of nature, a young wife will tell you of her husband or a husband of his wife, and so forth. If we cannot, in the same way, naturally and eagerly tell people about the God we adore, it may suggest that we do not adore God. If we need methods or programs to tell others about God, there is something wrong – and it may be that it is because we don’t really adore and love Jesus, because we have not really met Him. (I am not saying that this is always the case; sometimes, someone may have been taught that he or she cannot or should not naturally and freely talk about Jesus. Nor do I wish to suggest that these are the only possibilities; I undoubtedly could not think of all the possibilities, much less write them. At any rate, if methods or programs are necessary for us to tell others about Jesus Christ, then we almost certainly should not be going out of our way to find people to tell about Him. Also, for any variety of reasons, it may not be the time to speak.)
Copyright 2019 Raina Nightingale