There is a fine line between tact and timidity. In dealing with unbelievers, there are always those who say, We should not evangelize at this time; we should just show Christian love.” This is a phony dilemma based on the false assumption that the motives for, and methods of, evangelism entail something less than love. Furthermore, the person who accepts this approach as a way of doing God’s work compromises the integrity of his or her own person as an evangelical.
We cannot proclaim our belief that all people must receive Christ in order to be saved, and then comfort them on their way to a Christless eternity with good public relations instead of the gospel. We must not allow our conduct to carry a message that is at variance with our convictions.
A case in point is the sad situation described to me by a certain Jewish Christian. This man worked alongside a fellow Jew who was married to a “former Christian.” I use the word “former” because she had converted to Judaism in a ceremony that required her to renounce her faith in Christ. The father of this young lady was a prominent minister in one of the largest gospel-preaching churches in town, a church that had been in the forefront of revivalism in that community. But as the Jewish Christian man tried to witness to his Jewish co-worker, the response was, “My father-in-law who is a minister doesn’t try to convert me. He teaches that the Jews are God’s chosen people, and has even led tours to Israel.”
When the father-in-law was contacted about this matter, he gave a very common reply. He said that he had told his son-in-law the gospel and that Jesus was the Messiah of Israel, but he didn’t want to press the matter any further. He was just “letting his light shine,” believing that some day his daughter and son-in-law would come to the Lord.
This story is typical of the level of miscommunication that often exists between believers and unbelievers. The gospel preacher was sure that he had succeeded in making the point to his daughter’s husband that Christ is the only way of salvation. But the Jewish son-in-law, because of the high level of acceptance he enjoyed, was certain that his father-in-law didn’t mean that at all.
I am not saying that the preacher should have pushed the matter beyond his sonin- law’s willingness to hear. On the other hand, when he stopped saying the table grace “in Jesus’ name” out of consideration to the Jewish members of his family, he conveyed quite a different message than the one that he preached from his own pulpit. Isn’t it sad that what the preacher called “love” somehow obscured the gospel?