Your friend said he wasn’t interested in hearing about religion. He doesn’t need Jesus; he’s happy in his denomination; he thinks, “We’re all going to heaven, just taking different paths.” We don’t like rejection, but rejection is a part of evangelism. Does that mean we should give up?
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9). As we discussed in our examination of the parable of the sower, our job is to scatter that seed. We cannot force someone to accept the truth, nor can we force them to even listen to it. However, we must take seriously our role as sowers, realizing there are many who will ignore the gospel but praying for those who will obey.
Jesus prayed for the people who would believe. He prayed for His apostles, then said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). If Jesus prayed for prospective converts, shouldn’t we do the same?
We need to be watchful for opportunities to share God’s love, even with those who have resisted it in the past. One who may not initially be aware of his need for the Lord can change his mind over time. A major event in life may disrupt a friend’s status quo, and that could be a perfect opportunity to get him to think seriously about Jesus. His invitation is always open: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Our attitude is extremely important in evangelism. Some people are very fluent in sarcasm, but we need to recognize there are situations that call for seriousness. If we never show that we can be serious, our friends will never confide in us when they are struggling. They don’t want to be mocked, but comforted.
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers….Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:29,31-32). This applies to social media (written word) as much as the spoken word. When hateful, spite-filled memes dominate your profile, serious conversations will be difficult to come by. Kindness trumps bitterness.
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:1-2). Brother Kerry Williams asks a very thought-provoking question: “If we should approach a weak brother in such a way, how much more should we approach unbelievers with gentleness?” (Kerry W. Williams, Fishers of Teens, p. 37).
Consider how Aquila and Priscilla dealt with Apollos, and how he responded. “Now a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, came to Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things of the Lord, though he knew only the baptism of John. So he began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:24-28).
Did Aquila and Priscilla stand up and interrupt Apollos? Did they shout him down? No! The Scriptures say that “they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.” There is an implication of gentleness. They didn’t want to embarrass him or diminish his zeal one bit. They simply wanted him to have the full story so he could lead others to the truth.
You likely have friends that are passionate about their religion. They may be involved in their church and active in service. Perhaps you can find an opportunity to take them aside and study the truth more deeply. Invite them over for dinner with your family. Highlight the areas wherein you agree…don’t diminish the fact that they do believe that Jesus is the Son of God! Encourage them to keep developing that faith through a study of the Word, and explore what His Word says about obedience, specifically the gospel plan of salvation. “Explain the way of God more accurately”…“in a spirit of gentleness.”
Why is it important for us to do this? Paul writes, “And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).
“Do you have a lost friend? Do you intend to try and talk to that person about Jesus? If not, then maybe you should ask yourself one final question. What kind of friend am I?” (Kerry W. Williams, Fishers of Teens, p. 39).
Discussion and Action
1. What is going to happen to those who do not know and do not obey the gospel? Who is going to teach your friends if you don’t?
2. Can you think of opportunities that you have neglected? Learn from those missed opportunities and grab ahold of them next time!
3. Keep working on memorizing the gospel plan of salvation and the verses that go along with each step.
4. This class is over, but don’t forget about the five names you wrote down. Will you be a true friend and teach them about the Lord?