Saturday, October 18, 2008

Using Evangelism as an Excuse for Inaction

Sometimes I hear someone say, "The only way to change the situation is through evangelism." To be frank, I suspect that such words hide cowardly hearts. I have used such words as an excuse for inaction when I have not wanted to confront wrongdoing and injustice, and I'm ashamed of it.

At, Michael Spielman addresses the issue of when evangelism is the inappropriate first response to injustice. Here is an excerpt:

"Many wonderful and godly saints have suggested that evangelism is the best and only hope for changing people's minds about abortion. Merely changing someone's mind about abortion (without getting them saved), they argue, does no good in the long run. 'They will simply go to hell as a more moral person.' While this is true as it applies to the parent, such reasoning wholly neglects the person whose life hangs in the balance, and for this reason, such logic is faulty. Changing someone's mind about abortion does not have in view the creation of a more moral person, it has in view the saving of a child's life. If you change a pregnant woman's thinking about aborting her child, it will not gain her access to heaven, but it will certainly gain her child access to life, and that is of no small significance!

"Here's what it boils down to. If any of us were to witness the kidnapping and subsequent assault of a small child (especially if it was our own child), two things would be true. First, we wouldn't delay intervention with thoughts of 'calling' and 'resource distribution.' In other words, we wouldn't stand there and think, 'Is God calling me to help this child?' or, ' Is getting involved in this really a wise use of my resources?' Secondly, we wouldn't think for a minute that evangelism were the only legitimate means of helping this child. We might physically confront the assailant, we might call the police, we might ask for help from those around us, but there isn't a person alive who would think to himself, 'The only biblical way to spare this child is to share the gospel with her attacker so that he will repent and stop assaulting her.' Such an 'evangelistic' approach would be in violation of so many biblical principles that it would, in fact, be an absurdly 'unbiblical' path to take."

Perhaps nothing is less appealing than Christians who are too paralyzed by fear to help those who are being mistreated. Unfortunately, we have been conditioned to be timid. We have been told by seeker-sensitive church leaders that, above all else, we must not be offensive. We must seek the popular approval of the masses if we hope to grow churches. Taking a stand to confront the oppressors on behalf of the oppressed would not be popular in many cases. Some postmodern Emergent leaders have told us that we cannot reach the younger generation by confronting evil because they are offended that we believe in such things as the existence of truth and lies, right and wrong, and justice and injustice.

I, for one, am tired of living in slavery to the opinions of others when people are being hurt by the actions of careless or malicious people. Helping hurting people is more important than my popularity. I do not want to hide my cowardice and inaction with lame excuses about not wanting to offend the unjust and apathetic. When it came to helping the hurting, Christ never caved in to popular opinion. He couldn't care less what people who were offended by his compassionate actions thought about him. It's time for his followers to actually follow his example. It's time for compassion with courage.


Mike said...

Compassion with courage...amen. Justice issue are big with Christian bloggers, but factor little in the church. Lets be peoplewho care with courage, and forget what others say.

Terry said...

Thanks Mike!