Overt Hostility to the Gospel’s Proclamation is No Excuse for Not Proclaiming the Gospel

Monday Discussion (Fay: Part 4)

Discipleship pictureOn Thursday of last week, my good friend and fellow blogger, Matt Stephens, made some thoughtful comments on the first post in what has become a four part series on the five questions that start the evangelistic process of Bill Fay. Bill’s book is called Sharing Jesus Without Fear, and I have found it to be life-transformingly helpful over the last ten years. In Matt’s final comment, he points to a very real problem related to our evangelistic efforts in much of the nation. Here’s Matt’s comment:

Unfortunately, the majority of Americans consciously deny the latter [objective truth], along with being overtly hostile to the slightest hint of uninvited proselytization.

Matt is absolutely right on both counts. For many Americans, truth is becoming almost completely relative.

“Truth is that which is true for you, i.e. what works for you, but that doesn’t mean that it has any binding objective reality for me. I don’t have to live according to your truth. I am going to live according to my truth.”

This epistemological quagmire is a definite problem but we cannot let it become an excuse for shirking our privilege to proclaim the gospel to a needy world.

If I am driving down the road and my wife and I look at the gas gauge and see that the needle is approaching empty, my wife will say “Honey, don’t you think we should stop and get gas?” (A question with an implied exhortation.) When she does this, it does me no good to say, “That’s your reality. My reality is that we have enough gas to go another hundred miles. I’m going to ignore your question and deny your reality because I don’t like your implied exhortation that I need to do something at this time that I don’t want to do.”

And this speaks to the second point that Matt makes. It is unquestionably a problem that the average American is “overtly hostile to the slightest hint of uninvited proselytization.” Once again, that is a problem, but we must not let it become an excuse for not proclaiming the gospel.

So let’s ask a different question to begin our Monday discussion: How can we overcome the overt hostility to uninvited preaching of the gospel?


6 thoughts on “Overt Hostility to the Gospel’s Proclamation is No Excuse for Not Proclaiming the Gospel

  1. A few things come to mind in response to this question.

    (1) I think that the mere fact that we’re asking questions helps to diffuse hostility. When I worked with InterVarsity, my students and I did contact evangelism regularly. We would ask people three questions about Jesus:

    * Who do you think Jesus is?
    * Where did you get you beliefs about Jesus?
    * What difference–if any–do your beliefs about Jesus make to your life?

    The vast majority of folks who we approached answered all three questions and it led to further conversation in which we got to share the gospel and offer salvation to them. In fact, we saw some folks come to know Jesus on the spot, while others came to know Him later. Others who did not receive the Lord told us that they liked the fact that we were asking them questions from the outset.

    (2) We diffuse hostility by becoming the pin-cushions for people’s rants against the Christianity/the Church/the Bible. Lots of folks are REALLY angry about these kinds of things because they’ve never had an outlet to discuss them. When I shared the gospel with my neighbor Bob he lost it and went off for an hour about everything he hated about the Church and Christianity. I just listened and let him rant. I figured, “Hey, we’re still talking.” I would interject salient questions here and there to steer the conversation towards Christ and to expose some contradictory things he said, but it was mostly his show. Since then, he and I have had other spiritual conversations, and he has let me pray with him. He has also taken to introducing me to his friends as his “spiritual guide”. I still pursue him for the gospel, but our “Jesus-talk” started out with hostility.

    (3) Look, Christians need to stop being spineless concerning hostility from non-believers. JUST GROW UP! I mean, do we take to heart the fact that our Master said we should EXPECT hostility (Jn. 15:8-16:4, among other passages)? What about the suffering our ancient and current siblings in Christ endure for the gospel (try the ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT, esp. Acts, many of Paul’s letters, and John’s Apocalypse + any issue of Voice of the Martyrs)? Paul even claimed that such hostility was a sign of our salvation and the world’s lostness (Phil. 1:27-28; 2 Cor. 2:14-16). When we let possible hostility to the gospel dilute our proclamation, we only signify that we have allowed our society’s addiction to comfort to supplant our Lord’s agenda.

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    1. Amen. Amen. Fantastic start to the discussion brother. Exactly on point.

      Really, would love to have you in the mentor group on Tuesday morning (tomorrow). In fact, I might have you there even if you can’t attend. I’m going to copy your comment out and bring it to the group.

      How’s that new baby girl?

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  2. I enjoy reading this blog, although I haven’t commented for awhile. Good insights in how to evangelize. Obviously, asking questions is one way to prepare the soil for the best chance that the seed of the gospel will have a chance to grow. It lowers people’s defenses. We are not responsible for the condition of the soil, only for planting the seed. Besides asking questions; accepting, loving, encouraging people also opens them up over time to hearing and receiving the gospel.
    Matthew 10:14 NIV If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

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    1. Paul, good hear from you brother. I have driven by your home a couple of times in and out of town and thought about dropping in and seeing how you are doing. Good to hear from you again.

      I’ve prayed for you often over the last month.

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      1. Marty, thanks for the prayers. It has been a rough 5 plus weeks for me with missing Alice so much. Emotions are up and down and all over the place. I can only surrender to God’s will and purpose and trust he will guide me in how to live out the rest of my life without Alice by my side. i look forward to seeing you. I am in Seattle and Arizona until the end of July visiting the grand kids, one of God’s best ideas. They really keep me going. Keep those prayers coming. I need all the help I can get. Eddie and Laura have been a great support to me. They are tremendous disciples and I know you are a part of the reason for that. Take care and I pray for many blessings on your ministry.

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