I have been blessed with many friends and colleagues in ministry. We are all from different backgrounds. We attended different schools that vary in theology in some small ways. The place we really differ is in the area of tactfulness and delivery.
The days of “turn or burn” are far behind me. I understand the gospel is important… even urgent. I just don’t know if we are doing any good by blasting someone with the “You are going to burn in hell” truth. I remember traveling to Rockingham NC and going the courthouse for some business documents. As I walked up to the courthouse, a lady was screaming and waving her Bible. No exaggeration… she was screaming!! Now, she may have thought she was preaching but trust me… it was screaming. Here in the south, we call it “Hollerin”! Anyways, I know this lady’s heart was sincere. She doesn’t want anyone to spend eternity in hell. I get it! Neither do I!! I couldn’t help think though… how much is she actually helping advance the kingdom? As I watched her, she wouldn’t even look at me, and I was the only one listening. She just yelled and shook her Bible in the air. I left feeling that she may have been a good intentioned lady, but giving Christians a bad name. How many people passed by the courthouse that day thinking – “If that’s a Christian, I don’t wanna be one”?
I don’t think we water down truth. I do however, think we need a good dose of grace to balance everything out. After all, Jesus wasn’t 50% grace and 50% truth. He was 100% grace and 100% truth.
I also think we need to build relationships. Jesus was a friend of sinners. He ate with them. Hung out and just talked with them. In doing so, he was able to speak into their lives from a standpoint of relationship. Did they still need to repent? Yes. Did some of them reject Jesus? Probably so. But I bet he kept loving on them anyways. Why? Because it’s not the healthy that needs a Physician. The sick do!
You may be the only “Jesus” that people will come across. Are you going to repel them with your words or are you going to love them, and invest time into building a relationship? The choice is yours … but I have a feeling one will be more effective in advancing the Kingdom of God.