The Code-Breaker of Evangelism
About a year ago, I began meeting with a young businessman. This guy was bright, good looking, educated, very successful and he was spiritually lost. He just didn’t “get it!” (The gospel that is.) Perhaps you’ve had the same experience. The following are a few of my observations and my advice, if you truly want to understand what it takes to “break the code” of a person who has little interest in Jesus. Interspersed in this blog are specific ideas to overcome some of these barriers.
Spiritually lost people don’t generally know they are Spiritually lost people know they don’t go to church, and don’t look to God for guidance, and they even know some of their behaviors are wrong. But they’ve heard God loves them, will forgive them and they believe they are generally “good people,” so they’re not really worried about becoming a serious Christian or worried about hell. They really haven’t rejected the gospel; they just don’t know what it is, and that they are separated from God, therefore they don’t know they need it.
Spiritually lost people don’t generally admire Christians, so they’d prefer not being one. I’ve heard this observation more than once, “If Christianity and the Bible were true, it would produce better people.” The good news is that Jesus himself has a far better reputation than his followers. Jesus is still an attractive figure to non-Christians.Nevertheless, spiritual disinterested people are generally afraid of becoming a Christian. Your mission will not only be to explain the gospel, but to live the gospel! Authentic Christianity is more caught; than taught!
Spiritually lost people are waiting for you to put “rules” on them. I met with one very successful, spiritually lost, businessman in a group study for over a year. Finally he pulled me aside and asked this question, “I know that you know I’m living with a woman who’s not my wife. Based on what I’ve ready in the Bible, I’m surprised you guys haven’t talked to me about that yet.” I answered him this way, “John, we haven’t talked to you because you’re not one of us guys yet! We’re not into sin management. We might be able to guilt you into kicking your girlfriend out or marrying her, but you’d be no better off spiritually. When you finally decide what you’re going to do with Jesus Christ, the rest will fall into place. Without pledging your life and allegiance to him, having sex outside of marriage is the least of your problems.”Keep your eye on the long-term mission when dealing with spiritually indifferent people. They are suspicious that God, or religion wants to weigh them down with rules and requirements. Once they are born again and the Holy Spirit begins teaching them. The “rules” will make sense – but not before then. Marriage, and all the responsibilities of marriage don’t sound all that attractive to guys, until they fall in love. The same is true in faith. Fall in love with Jesus and love changes everything!
Spiritually lost people aren’t just stubborn or stupid. They simply do not have the Holy Spirit yet to help them understand. I’ve worked with men for years and they never became followers of Jesus. Others, three meetings into a discussion of Jesus, “get it” and surrender their life to him. While that’s frustrating to me, because I’m always looking for a “better plan” to present the gospel, the truth is, the Holy Spirit is the ultimate code-breaker. Unless he causes a person to become spiritually curious and convicts them of sin, and their rebellion against a holy and loving God, there is no technique that will work. Salvation is start to finish, God!
Most non-Christians do not know the “storyline” of the Bible. 40 years ago, almost everyone in the U.S. had some exposure to the Bible. Their parents either took them to church, or Sunday school, so they had some familiarity with creation, how sin came into the world, Israel, Jesus’ teachings and the resurrection story – the gospel.But, today I meet men all the time who have almost no knowledge of the Bible. Those of us who’ve been Christians for decades know the major stories and characters of the Bible, but the men or women we’re working with may not. We don’t always know what they don’t know! So, a decade ago, I wrote a four-page summary of the Bible and I ask them to read it before we start to meet regularly. Here’s a link to God’s Story. Here’s another great idea someone gave me. I’ve purchased copies of The Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I urge men who have little background in the Bible to read this book to their children at bedtime or after meals. By doing so, they’re not only learning the stories themselves, but teaching them to their children as well!
Introduce men to Jesus and his gospel by reading and studying the Bible with them. I like to start by reading and studying a few chapters a week from the gospel of Luke. Just have them write down their questions and try to answer them. Put no expectations on them to go to church, stop drinking, or using fowl language (unless you feel it’s an offence to God). The mission is introducing them to Jesus, not behavior modification. And pray daily for them.
How following Jesus works in real life.
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