So, no one likes to be told that they're wrong all the time. To be honest, we hate it and we typically do our best to avoid those kinds of people. Yet have you noticed that Christians are sometimes the worst offenders? And then we wonder why so few respond to our invitation to join our faith fellowship.
Here are a few examples you may have heard:
“You worship on the wrong day! I go to church on the biblical day!”
“You shouldn’t eat that. If you ate like me, you wouldn’t be sick.”
“The way you dress is suggestive. If you love Christ you’d dress differently.”
“Contemporary music is from the devil. Classical music is sacred.”
“Hymns make worship so boring. If we would change our style of worship we’d have more of the Holy Spirit.”
We could go on ad infinitum. It’s like we haven’t learned that confrontation seldom brings others, or ourselves, closer to Jesus.
Someone once told me that if I were vegan, I wouldn’t have Parkinson’s Disease. Being told that didn’t help me one bit. The onset of my problem began in the winter of 1998 when I slipped in an icy parking lot and was knocked senseless. Again, in the winter of 2003 I slipped on an icy sidewalk and was peeled off it by paramedics. Then on June 15, 2009 I tripped in a dark hallway at a boarding academy and was left with a permanent dent in my skull. Turns out the third time was the charm. I had to undergo months of brain therapy to restore my balance and short-term memory. My neurologist has told me that in some cases, Parkinson’s can occur due to head trauma. So, a change in my diet wouldn’t have saved me from developing it.
I know you all have your own stories of someone telling you that you’re wrong and they’re right. We’ve done it ourselves—in spite of knowing how it sends us scampering for the exit door.
Sometimes we carry this bad habit into the way we evangelize. First, let people know they are wrong. Second, let them know we are right. Third, pat ourselves on the back for having been a witness. If they reject the truth it can only mean they weren’t being receptive to the Holy Spirit, right? We tell ourselves we’ve done what Christ asked us to do and one day we’ll be rewarded for our faithful witness.
Really? How did Jesus do it? Did He get in people’s faces regarding their errors and sins, insisting they had it all wrong and He had it right? Jesus knew something we all need to learn. People learn best by example. Not by being lectured at or condemned. When Jesus taught He used the following methods:
He consistently lived out His humility, empathy, patience, grace, kindness, and love. He was always respectful. And He often responded to difficult situations by posing a simple question thus redirecting their thoughts and inviting them to a deeper introspection. In the Garden He asked Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” To Mary and Joseph He asked, “Don’t you know that I must be about My Father’s business?” And to Peter, He asked, “Do you love Me more than all these?”
Let us learn from Jesus. Instead of becoming irate with the shortcomings we see in others, why not give a gentle answer? Ask a well-placed question? Let us speak as Jesus would speak, and so say with the psalmist, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth” (Psalm 119:103, NASB). Let us anoint our lips and our words with a little more honey.
Keep looking up!