Dishonest Evangelism

by Howard Glass

One reason for today's large number of shallow conversions could be that evangelism is not being done honestly. A witness for Christ should not sound like a sales person. Salvation is not a commodity. Too often we see Christianity presented to non-believers in a way that is a bit too appealing. Some converts are surprised to discover they have embarked on something that is morally demanding; that the easy yoke still requires one to pull, and that lust for worldly happiness interferes with Christian growth. This may be why some become disappointed and fall away. Still worse, is that some go the other direction entirely. In most fellowships there are people who have turned their religious experience into a hobby and Christianity into a fetish. You know the ones I mean: they have the Lord's name on their lips so much they make even their pastor uncomfortable. Though we sense their religion is external and lacks depth, we find it tricky to correct these people. Projecting oneself as a Christian is not the same as projecting Christ. A contrived, external relationship with God is a form of idolatry. You can easily see how this might happen: idolatry is easier than real devotion and some believe Christianity should be easy. The golden calf, though dumb and lifeless, did not require anything of the people. When we present the gospel as a cure-all for human problems and lose sight of how it tends to expose the moral weakness it encounters, we set people up for one of these ends. We should be sure to tell people that man's problems are God's opportunities and that becoming a Christian is no guarantee of worldly happiness. The noblest examples of Christianity are those who became indifferent to worldly happiness. A cross characterizes the Christian life because it is a life that cannot avoid suffering-not because Jesus is a sadist, but because suffering is the active ingredient in a recipe for Christian growth. Any evangelical effort that leaves that out is not being honest to begin with. We should trust the Holy Spirit and offer the gospel as God gave it to us, resisting the desire to embellish it for the sake of evangelical success.
2011 Disciple 155x50 2011 AMG 155x50
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