“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14).
I wish to share the Good News with anyone who will listen, but I will not beat my head against a brick wall. There is a matter of accountability, and we see that accountability throughout scripture. “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet” (Matthew 10:14). Similarly, I have been called to share the Good News, and model Christ in my example, but I have not been called to convert; conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8:16). Yet scripture teaches that people will not always accept sound doctrine; we know people didn’t then, and they’re not all going to now.
We should become all things to all people for the mission of evangelism, but what does that mean exactly? The Apostle Paul adapted his teaching to reach people. For example, when preaching in Athens, Paul [referring to Jesus] said: “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:29-31). Here we have a sermon to Gentiles whose culture was steeped in the worship of false gods. If you take a closer look at this section of Acts, you’ll find that to them, the scope of discourse differed from what the apostle preached to the Jews. Paul adapted his speech for his audience without compromising his witness or massaging his message. To have done otherwise, would have been acts incompatible with the gospel of love.
I believe we absolutely must hold true to the gospel, while at the same time, we must meet people in their need. One of the things I find so striking about Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles is that you always knew what Paul was for, not just what he was against, and I think we need to do a better job with that today. But Paul wasn’t in the business of pleasing people; winning the approval of people isn’t what serving God is all about (Galatians 1:10). By no means did Jesus send us into the world with an easy task. Thank goodness he didn’t send us out alone.
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