Last week, with page three of our track, we went over how to discuss a person’s need to restore their relationship with God. The traditional Christian message is, “You are a sinner in need of a Savior.” I believe this is a message the enemy has twisted and started using against us, especially here in the West. This leads many to question the way Christians look at their own sin.
Before answering the question raised on page three, we need to clear the air by highlighting some of the biggest “bad things” done in human history. It’s time to get humble and honest.
One of the primary reasons people do not want to become a Christian is that they do not want to be associated with the bad reputation of Christianity. Let’s be honest, we have a varied history; and we have a mixed presence today. A lot of good is done by Christians, but there is a lot of bad, too.
Unbelievers are nearly paranoid about becoming known as Christian. The Christian rap sheet is widely publicized, and the unsaved do not want to join an organization with a bad reputation. This is where you must start: Christianity is not an organization to join, and Christians are not club members. Christians are people who individually strive to follow Jesus, to love as Jesus loves.
FYI, there are many facts they often get wrong. For example, it is not factual that Christians have started the most wars and killed the most people in history; that is an exaggeration—atheists win that prize by a mile—Mao and Stalin dominate the list. But you don’t need to argue with them or set them straight. Facts are not going to help—they are emotionally entrenched, not factually depleted.
Just admit that “Christians” have done some terrible things in the name of God.
But then put a fence around these “Christians” with a big sign saying, “These were/are fraudulent Christians.”
The crusaders, for example, were not Christians. Nobody can claim they are a Christian simply by joining a church, a club. That’s not what a Christian is. Christians are disciples of Christ. They are followers of Christ’s way. They have been born of the Spirit. They want to, in every way possible, please their King.
David consulted God before he went to battle-he wanted to please God. I don’t believe Jesus was consulted before the crusaders took off on their vengeance spree. The crusaders were interested in many things, but not honoring God by their actions, making peace, turning the other cheek, and loving their neighbor as themselves. They were not hungering and thirsting for righteousness.
They may have been “Christian” in membership or some twisted maligning of their minds. But we know a Christian by their fruit, and if the fruit is not born by making a considerable effort to love God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength and love their neighbors as themselves…well, they are not a Christian.
And how about the prejudiced? In Mark 11 and 12, Jesus teaches us that following Him means loving everyone. Jesus was frustrated with the Jews for taking away gentile access to the temple. The Jews had taken over the Court of the Gentiles with sacrificial business, essentially blocking the Gentiles from worship in the temple. So, Jesus made His point by overturning their tables and calling them thieves for stealing the space.
Then Jesus instructs us on relating to others through forgiveness. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. Mark 11:25
And then, Jesus gives a monumental statement to capstone His repeated teaching of inclusion and equality of all,
“Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” Mark 12:17
The image stamped on the coin was Caesar. The image stamped on people is God. Every person, equally, without regard to gender, race, or ethnicity, bears the image of God. All people are “stamped” with His image. Jesus was saying we need to give God His own—that is, every person.
The person standing in front of you is His. It doesn’t matter what they look like, how “bad” they are, or how much they hate you or God. Treat them like you want to be treated, not because it is a rule, but because they are His, and He loves them dearly. Honor God by treating people fairly, loving all people equally because they bear His image.
Jesus is saying that people bear the image of God, so render all people equally to God—love them as He does. You are mistreating God when you are mistreating any human being. Stated in the positive: when you bring them water, you are giving that to God.
And for you, if you help them find peace with God, God promises another blessing. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God. Matthew 5:9
Are you getting the impression that evangelism is a blessing to everyone, including you?
The imperialists, likewise, can be highlighted as fraudulent Christians. The parts of the world that fell to the heavy hands of the imperialists know that the Christians came first, funded by the imperialist governments as a strategy to take over the natives and build up their tax base. This was not Christian behavior. Undoubtedly, many Christians who went before the imperialist rulers were true Christians desiring to bring the good news. Yet, they were funded by “blood money,” making them co-conspirators, to some degree.
Admit it to them.
Why bring up these misguided and fraudulent “Christians?” You must clear the air. If you were going to teach on ethics and it is known that you are a former bank robber, you need to clear the air before you can get anyone’s attention. Bring it up before they do.
In this way, you are holding up as some of the worst sinners the people who claimed to be Christians and were not. It would be best if you divorced yourself from the fraudulent Christians. It would help if you were clear that you are not inviting them to become like the people they dislike and disrespect.
Additionally, by doing this, you may avoid the latest flammable topics (like homosexuality) as a sin, thereby skirting the enemy’s trap of taking a stand against something that is an emotional black hole.
Speaking of which, inevitably, you will get asked about a hot topic, so be prepared. Many people have asked me, “The Bible says homosexuality is a sin; what do you say?”
I reply with the same answer I give when asked about any sin: “Why are you asking me? Do you care what I think? And even if you did care, why would you listen to me? I am not God. You need to ask God Himself. And by the way, what God says about sin and hell is an advanced topic; you can’t extract a few passages from 31,000 scriptures and come to any conclusions. My advice is to relax, forget the advanced topics for now, and just start with the simple stuff. Open the Bible and read it for yourself, instead of listening to anyone else, including me. You will be overwhelmed by something far different than you thought—you think God is going to knock you over the head with sin guilt—but instead, God is going to knock you over the head with love. You are far more loved than you can imagine, and by missing out on loving Him back, you are depriving yourself of something amazing.”
I am not playing a game with them. I am not trying to tell them something “just to win.” And I am not trying to avoid a hot topic to make my life easier. I sincerely believe this is the Biblical answer. It is not only hypocritical (don’t forget, they already think you are a hypocrite); it is wrong to single out any sin when we all know the truth—the list of sins is nearly limitless, and we all stumble.
The Bible says they knew something was amiss in their thinking and actions at one point (though they may be past recognizing it). Furthermore, I sincerely believe it is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict us of sin, not me. If they read the Bible for themselves, they will be convicted, but in a far superior way than I can do for them—by that of agape love, the greatest, most perfect love. God is love, the Bible says.
I had fifty years of wretchedness when He knocked on my door again. When I finally opened the door to Him, all I got was love and encouragement from Him. Indeed, one at a time, He had me work on my behaviors. No condemnation, no guilt. All love and, “It’s okay, son, tomorrow’s another day. You’ll get this. I’ve got you!” No human told me I was a sinner, and I didn’t need anyone to tell me. God did. And he has perfect delivery, perfect phrasing.
Those familiar with Slow Brewing Tea and The Tea Room Scrolls will remember that Jesus teaches us how to live a blessed life in Matthew 5. The first blessing and the gateway to all further blessings is this: blessed are the poor in spirit (the poor in spirit are those who know that God is far more capable than themselves), for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
You will experience the extraordinary blessing of the Kingdom when you evangelize with God, letting Him be God, and you be a lowly, loving servant pointing everyone in the direction of the King. As an evangelist, you will experience pure joy when you stay poor in spirit and let Him be God.