Acts 2:37-38 NIV84 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" (38) Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Amid a myriad of approaches to introduce people to Jesus, one method is still above them all. That is, people who do not know God are cut to the heart and respond to His jaw-dropping power in light of their own sin through repentance and faith.
This is not popular today, but it is still popular with God.
The reason it's not so popular today is that nobody wants to admit that they are wrong about anything. Christians, non-Christians, rich, poor, middle-class, any occupation, any race, any age... no one can seem to admit they are wrong or any wrongdoing. We won't admit to each other and we won't admit to God. That leaves us in a very precarious position in regards to sin. Sin is wrongdoing based on God's standard of holiness. If we are in violation of God's holiness, then, at some point, we must reconcile this violation through admission, contrition, repentance, and Godly sorrow. Then, our hearts have been cut by the Holy Spirit, and salvation comes flooding in.
To attempt leading people into a relationship through any method devoid of the cutting is an exercise in futility. here are some ways we attempt to get people to "like us and like our Jesus" without the cutting:
- Any form of Christian entertainment that mimics the world so people can participate in Christian things and not feel out of place.
- Convincing arguments through apologetics attempting to prove Jesus through reasoning rather than belief, faith and actual presence.
- Benefit-based explanations. "Come to Jesus and receive all these perks!"
- Guilt-based or shame-based language to "motivate" people to respond.
- "Love them with actions, but not words..." In other words, never ever point out what is wrong ... and don't expect God to point out what is wrong either in regards to sin. This cheapens true love.
- "We're all sinners" approach. This basically says, "Don't worry about the whole sin thing... we're all still sinners here."
As you share Christ with the world, share your own story of how you were CUT TO THE HEART. As you tell your own testimony to others, it would be good to say, "I had to come face-to-face with my own sin before God." That speaks authentically to your own submission to God through a rending of the heart. Then tell them of the freedom you have experienced beyond the healing of salvation. Then explain the power that God gives to help you navigate life and the authority to hold back the enemy. That's the heart of the Christian experience. Tell of His presence with you to guide you and lead you through the day-to-day circumstances of life.
Let's bring evangelism back to it's center on the Christ who saves and the shed blood that deals with sin.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NIV84 (1) When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. (2) For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (3) I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. (4) My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, (5) so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.
Brett Heintzman is passionate about the spiritual formation of God's people. These writings are designed to draw us close to God and to help us live out of the riches of His presence. It's all about being in the world but not of the world.