QUESTION: I have a very good friend who is Jewish. We have been friends for a long time. He treats Christians as good people, but just that. How can I approach him about the Gospel?
ANSWER: Your friend may merely be using tact to avoid dealing with the issue of Christ. What he may be thinking but not saying is that he considers Christians to be generally well meaning, moral and honorable, but misguided in their belief in a personal God or anyone’s need for a savior from sin. If that is the case, you need to begin at a different level—discussion about the reality of God in your life, the validity of the Hebrew Scriptures, or what the Jewish patriarchs believed and practiced.
On the other hand, your friend may be sincere in what he is saying about Christians being good people” in that he really sees a difference in their lives. In that case, you need to explain that Christians are not “good” because of their faith per se, but because of the way Christ empowers them to live when they commit their lives to him.
Your friend may be thinking that through adhering to the high principles and morality of Judaism, he can equal the “good lives” of devout Christians without believing in Christ. The problem he must face is that no person can be “good enough” to live up to what God requires. It takes the supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers to make us “good” at all, and even at that, as the prophet Isaiah said, “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).
As Yeshua himself said, no one is good except God (Matt. 19:17).
You might begin a path of witness with a leading question that sounds more like philosophy than religion. Ask your friend, “What makes good to be good, and what makes evil to be evil?” In essence ask him what determines whether something is right or wrong. If he thinks about it for very long he will have to see that it takes a judge far greater than man or we would have moral chaos. Most people think they know good from evil and right from wrong, but when confronted by such a question most of them can see that they have never thought it through. This kind of discussion just might serve to open your friend’s thinking to the point where he will turn and ask what you think makes something to be wrong or right. The answer, of course, is God and his standards!
Tell your friend that he must not look to Christians either for their goodness or for their lack of it. He must look to Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel who alone can make us “good,” because when we commit our lives to him, God imputes Yeshua’s perfect righteousness to us, and that is the only way we can meet God’s standards.