by Pastor Larry Sorrells, Rockville, Trinity UMC
Peter tells us: “… regard Christ the Lord as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Evangelism is meant to be a Christian’s honest response by testimony and action to the forgiving love of God that they have experienced through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It is meant to be an expression of joy, gratitude, and praise based upon the truth of God’s gracious, healing, and saving activity in life.
The problem comes about in the way people express evangelism. Some folks just accept the concept of love and never truly express the value of Christ in their lives. Others are so rigid in their thoughts about truth that they don’t accept or understand people’s personal situations and turn them off.
The old scientist in me begins thinking about the elements, sodium and chlorine. Sodium is a highly active element that is normally found in nature only when it links itself with another element. It doesn’t stand alone. Chlorine is a poisonous gas that gives bleach that offensive odor. But, when sodium combines with chlorine, the result is sodium chloride… common table salt, the highly usable substance we use to preserve meat and bring out the flavor in all types of foods.
In evangelism, love and truth can be like sodium and chlorine. Love without truth can be flighty, sometimes blind to issues, and acceptant of beliefs and ways that can be damaging to faith. Truth, on the other hand, without love, can be so offensive and even poisonous to the cause of Christ that it can turn people away from the gospel. But, when truth and love are combined in the individual or in a church family, we become what Jesus called us to be, “the salt of the earth,” it is then we can preserve our true faith and bring out the flavor and beauty of that true faith in Christ. Blessings.