2 Corinthians 5:10-11a (ESV)
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”
The future evaluation of mankind “before the judgment seat of Christ,” always looms on the horizon. It’s what ought to motivate us (Christians) to evangelize a fallen world. People are going to “receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”
But, what exactly does it mean to persuade?
At the University of Washington during a Q & A session, well known, Christian Apologist, Ravi Zacharias, gave a great illustration of what it means…
“‘When I was in Istanbul, there was a man who came… he was a famous film actor. They introduced him to me as the Brad Pitt of Turkey.
It really doesn’t do anything for me, I’m not in that arena.”
“So I said, ‘You mean he’s a well-known actor?’
They said, ‘Yeah.’
‘Ok,’ I said, ‘Alright…’
When he came to me, he was a very devote man, whatever he believed, a handsome looking guy. And so, I was being kind to him.
And, I said to him, ‘You know, uh, are you ever coming to America? I’d like to get together with you.’
He said, ‘No, I will not come to America.’
I said, ‘Why not?’
He said, ‘They won’t let me back in there.’
I said, ‘Why won’t they let you back in there?’
He said, ‘Because, I’m a marked man.’
I said, ‘Why are you a marked man?’
He said, ‘Because, the last time I came, I stood outside the White House and clenched my fist and I shouted bad words at your president, I hate him, I hate your leaders there.’ And, so on.
So, he kept talking.
So, I said, ‘You know, you must have very little respect for what you believe.’
He said, ‘Why is that?’
I said, ‘If what you believe is very noble, why are you reducing to such an ignoble method? If what you believe is as noble as you claim to believe, why don’t you use a method that is in-keeping with that noble belief, so that you are trying to persuade people… not just yell and scream at them?’ I said, ‘If I stood in front of you today, and clenched my fist at you and your country, and your culture, and so on, and tried to win you over to my side, would you be persuaded?’
And, there was pin drop silence.
He said, ‘Uh, are you telling me there’s hope for me?'”
(Audience laughs, again.)
“I said, ‘All I’m saying to you is, you may have a different belief to somebody out there in the United States.’ I said, ‘Why don’t you find a method that retains the dignity of what you believe, so we can interact intelligently?'”
With Gentleness and Respect
This reminded me of what Peter wrote in his first epistle…
1 Peter 3:15 (ESV)
“…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect…”
If we first “honor Christ the Lord as holy,” as being the grounding for “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you,” then we actually might have a shot at persuasion… as long as we “do it with gentleness and respect.” In other words, if we (as Ravi said) “find a method that retains the dignity” of what we believe, then we can “interact intelligently” with those we evangelize. Anything else is not an attempt to persuade, but a susceptibility to dissuade. And, wouldn’t that be a dangerous path?
Yep… especially in light of the fact that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.”
Godspeed, to the brethren!