Once again I’ve been ‘schooled’ in the need for friendship evangelism, or establishing friendships over time with the unsaved, in order to present the message of the gospel.
Aside from the fact that there is not a single example of that sort of evangelism in all lf the New testament (that I have found), I submit to you that if you present the Biblical message of the gospel (that Jesus died for our SINS), unless God has first softened the hard heart, you will probably lose the friend you spent six months making, if not be accused of pulling a ‘bait and switch’ on your former friend.
Don’t get me wrong. We are called to be friendly and relational. At the same time, we are called to share a message that is, by it’s very nature, ‘offensive’ to the unbeliever. As one street evangelist has explained the issue:
“. . .the unregenerate person doesn’t want their Christian friends to proclaim the gospel to them. Why? They hate Jesus (John 15:18). They love their sin (Job 15:16) and they hate God (Romans 1:30). Cockroaches don’t run to the center of the floor and square dance when you turn on the kitchen light. They flee to the dark regions underneath the cabinets and appliances. They hate the light, and so does the unregenerate sinner (John 3:20). Their love for the darkness of their sin is so great that any holy light brought to bear in their lives is not only uncomfortable and unpleasant, it is detestable.”
Put another way, the genuine message of the gospel, must include the issue of our sin, and has as its very intent, to cause great discomfort in the hearts of unbelievers. That presents the ‘friendship evangelist’ with an interesting predicament. He/she muse either present a ‘gospel’ message that the unbeliever who hates God will like (a false gospel), or present a message that his/her ‘friend’ might hate (the bait and switch).
Sadly, much of today’s evangelism has adopted the give ‘natural’ God haters a Jesus they will like (He’ll give them a wonderful life down here). While unbelievers might flock to that Jesus (and they do – ask Joel Osteen), it is very likely they will hear, on judgment day “depart from me, I never knew you”, and the preacher of the lie will face a stricter judgment (James 3:1) .
Proponents of friendship evangelism can be, and are, very sincere! So if it is not Biblical evangelism, why are they so sincere about it?
I can think of only one reason for such heartfelt enthusiasm for an unbiblical method of evangelism. They really believe that fallen men have a ‘natural’ desire for God and His Son but they just don’t know it. I know there was a time when I believed it. I believed it and practiced it with great enthusiasm. Reading what the Bible tells us about the state of fallen men caused me to repent in tears.
Now I have, as a goal, to be a real friend, and share an offensive message with those who might hate it, praying all the while that God would open the hearts of those same friends to welcome the message and run to the Cross. Anything else would be an act of veiled hatred.
I forgot to mention that this morning I read a blog post that labeled ‘friendship evangelists’ a bunch of ‘Christian’ con-artists.
Food for thought on a Sunday morning. I welcome your thoughts and comments. .