On the way home from work earlier this week, I heard a portion of a radio program with Richard Land called For Faith and Family. Dr. Land was discussing major barriers that are in the way of people becoming Christians. He said that the behavior of many Christians is a major barrier, because so many are living in conflict with the teachings of Christ.
Dr. Land mentioned that several years ago, a group of missionaries was attempting to establish a church among a tribe in the Amazon. No church had ever existed in this tribe even though surrounding tribes had been receptive to churches for years. The missionaries discovered that a few years before their arrival, a man from the tribe had left. He returned to them with the announcement that he had become a Christian. Unfortunately, he was a terrible representative of Christianity. He was arrogant, unkind, and dishonest in his interactions with tribal members. So when the missionaries arrived with the good news of Christ, they found an extremely resistant group of people. It took three times longer than normal to establish a church among the people, and the church never really thrived among them. One man who claimed to follow Jesus hindered the acceptance of the gospel among an entire tribe.
Dr. Land made an interesting observation. He believed that the apostle Paul was such a successful evangelist because he went to people who had never heard of Christ or known a Christian. If those people had been exposed to some of the unethical, unloving, or arrogant members of the church in Corinth (for example), he would have had a much more difficult time spreading the message among them.
The apostle encouraged Christians to live honorably "so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive" (Titus 2:10, NIV). It makes evangelism much easier when people see followers of Jesus Christ as people of justice, kindness, mercy, and humility.