Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Relationship Myth

The assertion: "I have to build a relationship with someone before I can share my faith with them."

One thing is true. Relationships are good to have and to develop. But how well must I know someone before I can witness to him?

First of all, let me say that the people I have known the longest and who I know well also know me very well. This fact alone makes it twice as hard for me to broach the subject of eternity with them. They may have known me before I was a Christian. Or perhaps they are a family member and have seen my behavior at it's worst. In any case, while I must strive to reach these people as well, the stakes seem higher in a close personal relationship, and that alone skyrockets the fear component.

This is often referred to as "friendship evangelism." My friend Tony Miano has said this: "Friendship evangelism without the verbal proclamation of the Gospel is neither friendship nor evangelism."

Romans 1:16 says this: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (emphasis mine). It is the Gospel that God uses to draw sinners to Himself. That is why he has given us the task of being ambassadors for Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 5:20)

No amount of relationship building will have any influence on whom God saves. It is His work alone and He purposes the Gospel for this end. I did say though, at the beginning of this article that relationships are a good thing. That being said, I am able to begin a relationship in about two minutes on the street. It may not be the kind of a relationship that will grow and last for years, but it will be one motivated by genuine love for the lost sinner. This can be done with a warm greeting, a tract or a simple question: "Hi, I'm Robert and I'm out here today with some friends asking a question: What do you think happens when you die."

I can honestly say that of the countless times I have asked that question, I have rarely been flat out dismissed. People actually do think about eternity. To ignore this fact in the name of "earning the right" to speak to them about Christ displays a lack of concern that frankly baffles me.

Let's remember that God does the saving and that really, nothing we can do will sway His decision one way or the other.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6


hmkjr said...

This is absolutely why I am having such a hard time witnessing to my neighbors.