Sharing the Gospel Without Burning Bridges

We live in a really crazy kind of culture. Its quite interesting, actually. While we live in what’s called a Post-Christian and Post-modern America, there is more spiritual interest now than there has ever been in the history of the United States. This is a critical time for us an our evangelism efforts because we literally have the world at our fingertips through the internet, smart phones, social networking media, technology, and communications that are unparalleled and low-cost in our society.
Since we are at an amazing time, there are also amazing opportunities. People are very open to talking about spiritual things. However, those usually don’t include talking about Christianity. Why? I find that on campus I can talk to just about anybody about Jesus Christ. People love him, are fascinated by Him, and love to talk about Him. Where the problem comes in is the negative perception of Christians.
Why are there those perceptions? Because in a lot of our preaching and teaching it’s this idea of an “us versus them” mentality. Unfortunately, the history of Christianity is not a spotless and clean one—but the Church, the Bride of Christ, is always spotless and clean. It has been our, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer calls it, “ The vigilant religious instincts of man” that have led to gross misrepresentations of Jesus Christ and the Gospel – not Jesus Christ.
So how do we share the life of Christ and the Gospel with people in a way the delivers truth without compromise, yet doesn’t have a sectarian attitude? I firmly believe that love is that key. Without love there can be no discussion. Without love there is nothing. Without love there cannot be kindness.
God showed us love through Jesus Christ, right? So love has to be the starting point. As the old adage goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” People aren’t going to listen to us and the wonderful, extravagant story of love if we’re starting out with a checklist to meet before they can have fellowship with us. The Church of Christ is a place of healing and unity, not of division and condemnation. Sure, we have to deal with tough stuff like sin, and we have to take it very seriously, but these things can all be done in love. We also have to deal with the non-negotiable, or as theologians call it, doctrine. Those things that we cannot change, that must be done and are the direct command of the Lord.
So what does this look like? There’s something about showing dignity to another person that breaks down so many walls. When we love our neighbor as ourselves, something amazing happens: a relationship develops! Isn’t it amazing that God said that and it works? Hmmm….maybe we should listen to that. If we’re going to share Jesus with a culture full of religious division and try and unite, we’re going to have to be very sensitive, prayerful, and well-studied in the Scripture. Also, we must be very humble. We have to admit that we don’t do everything right and that we don’t have it all figured out. That’s probably the hardest step in the whole of it all. Why? Because a lot of us are walking egos—me especially. Who doesn’t like to think they’re right all the time?
So to share the gospel without burning bridges we have to walk across the bridges together. If we let small issues and things divide us, we’ve lost already. We have to take those we love by the hand and walk with them, not in front or behind them, and deal with issues in love as they come. By doing this I really, honestly believe we can unite under one banner, that is, the banner of Christ in unity. We will stop uniting in our little “groups” of who’s and what’s and where’s, but only as Christians, and Christians only. Love is the trump card. Humility is the ingredient, and the Gospel is the power (Rom. 1:16). Let us love like Jesus, share the word humbly like Jesus, and lead the world to Jesus one person at a time.

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