Christ’s communication varied depending on the audience. To his disciples, he gave straight info and pointed, personal rebukes. To the crowds, he spoke mostly in parables. To the religious leaders as a whole, he gave condemnation in very harsh terms. To the people who sought him out, he showed love and spoke pure gospel. “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, ‘One thing you still lack…'”
Paul was invited to speak to philosophers at the Areopagus, “his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols.” Every step towards this moment of speaking brought a new idol. Another false god. An opportunity for the Enemy to deceive and enslave people for whom Christ died. He felt the oppression of darkness deep within his soul. Again, “his spirit was provoked within him…”
So what did he do? Yell at them that there were all in sin? Going to hell? Tell them they were what was wrong with Greece? No…he “redeemed the time, making the most of every opportunity” (Eph. 5).
So he starts out with a compliment. Seriously! A compliment to these worshipers of false gods! “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious…” He then goes on to use their idols as a way to introduce Jesus and give the full gospel, including why Jesus is greater than their idols.
Did you catch that? He wins his way into their hearts before he delivers the truth about their foolishness.
Jesus talks with the woman at the well. He doesn’t start with, “You slut! What in the world is wrong with you?” He starts with the respect of talking to a Samaritan woman as though she has value and worth. Because…that’s how he sees her. REGARDLESS of her sin.
How many of us look at cultural issues today and think we need to just throw harsh truth out there? Make our stand? Make sure our country remains “Christian” without ever giving thought as to how our communication will be received? If you win the war, you lose the hearts. If you begin to win the hearts with Christ’s gospel, the war ceases and culture naturally changes.
“Yeah, but what they’re proposing is ridiculous!” “They’re in sin and we need to stand on truth!” Hey, Sunshine- why don’t you start with your own sin first. Else you hurt someone with that 2X4 proceeding from your eyes…
Maybe what we need most is to be BIBLICAL while we engage our culture in the context of personal relationships. And, when given the privilege of a platform like social media, consider how Jesus or Paul might’ve handled themselves in our current context. Anyone can spout off about a particular sin in some self-righteous, “I would never do something like that!” manner. I believe God wants more for his people. Humility. Love. Caring more about the person than about being right.