Picture this: a well dressed man approaches you as you are standing in line waiting
to order your lunch from your favorite fast food restaurant. He asks you how your
doing and politely introduces himself. You tell him your fine but your day really
hasn't been that great to this point. And even though you say you are fine your
tone of voice gives you away so that anyone can figure out that you are not quite
as fine as you have let on.
The man looks right at you and begins recounting
to you a well rehearsed two-minute testimony about his salvation experience.
He does not seem to skip a beat. It is not until he gets finished that you are
finally able to tell him that you are already a Christian.
He looks at you surprisingly, "Oh," he says and then moves to another line.
You stand there wondering what just happened. "Did this person even realize that you
were having a bad day?" You knew your mood showed through but it seemed to fail to
come to his attention at all.
He was a man with a mission. His intentions were to
find non-Christians and bring to them life-saving news. However, as good as intentions
as they were it seems that the person got lost in the shuffle of the task.
What would come across to most of us is that this person did not really care at all, he
was just interested in making converts. He could have been doing so because he felt it was
his obligation as a Christian, or perhaps he felt guilty if he did not witness. Perhaps he
is a person who is truly seeking to be obedient to God and that is why he is trying to
spread the gospel to all the earth (all by himself if necessary). Yet, something seems to
1 Corinthians 13 tells us that if we do anything without love it is nothing.
Someone might say that the man in the illustration could have been doing what he was out of
love. That because of his love for others he was willing to do his part. But what kind of love
overlooks a person's needs due to being so focused on a task? It is not the kind of love
that Jesus demonstrated. Christ took time to tend the needs of people, to show them love
and genuineness in what he said and did in regard to each person. We are told that
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude. . ." (1 Cor.13:4-5). Without love, the best intentions still amount
to nothing. For where is it written in scripture, "The end justifies the means?"
Where within the "canned-witness" do we leave room to seek wisdom in determining
the needs of another? Where within a hit-and-run testimony is there time to minister to
someone's pains, hurts and needs? While we try to get the message of Christ across to the
many who are lost, we must see that the attitude of Christ is at least as important as the
words we use. Others need to feel like we are interested in them as people and not as
someone else's goal to make one convert per day. They need to see Christ loving them
through us rather than finding themselves somewhere in the wake of our fly-by. If we are
not careful, what people will see will not be the genuine concern that Christ has for
them, they will see instead salesman type tactics that have little more in mind that
meeting a quota.
There are many who testify that they found Christ because of
someone who cared enough to approach them in a fashion as described above, or who left a
tract which gave them the "how to" to become a Christian. That's great and we
should be thankful. Paul wrote, "What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in
pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will
rejoice (Philippians 1:18). The glory is truly God's because He is able to use any way
to bring people to salvation--but that never means that every way is acceptable.
If we seek to be obedient to God's command, "Go ye therefore. . ." but fail to
be obedient in following God's way, we are still disobedient regardless of the results.
God's way is the way that must be followed. It is the only way that will bring true and