As Christians we should always want to be more effective in sharing the gospel. Ultimately, yes, we trust in the sovereignty of God. He is the only one who can save. We should not attempt to coerce or manipulate people into believing the gospel.
However, I also believe that God chooses to use people, like you and like me, who have experienced the good news of salvation to proclaim it to others.
Caring As We Share the Gospel
So, the question becomes, how can we more effectively share this good news? Might I suggest that one simple way to make your witness more effective is simply by caring for the other person.
Cold, harsh truth removed from gentleness and meekness is not helpful to anyone. I don’t know about you but my testimony is not that I heard someone on the street yelling at me about being dead in sin and that I was all of a sudden overwhelmed at the goodness and beauty of God.
Make it Personal
Care for others seems to be one of the primary things the Spirit uses to take abstract and distant truth and bring it near, making it personal. Here’s how author Charles Jefferson put it:
Physicians never deal with men in crowds. One patient at a time. That is the rule in all hospitals throughout the world. Each patient has his own chart at the head of his bed. The temperature of his body, the beat of his pulse, and the number of his respirations are carefully noted. Each patient has his own diet, his special remedies, and his particular kind of nursing. It is this sleepless vigilance of observation and delicate accuracy of treatment of the individual man which has filled the modern world with miracles, and given the physicians of the body their unparalleled prestige. The same policy adopted in our churches would bring equally astonishing results.
One patient at a time. Everyone is unique and has a different story. Though sin is always at the root, people have different hurts, habits, and hangups. Second Corinthians 1:3–4 gives us a biblical image of what this kind of care looks like among God’s people:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
We serve the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. It’s not just an expression; it’s who he is. His essence. As we have received, we give. As Jeff Vanderstelt says, “What God does to you he wants to do through you.”
Three Ways to Care When We Share the Gospel
Mercy and comfort ought not stop with us. This is a theme all throughout Scripture. What we have experienced through Jesus we are to be to others. In light of this truth, here are three ways that we can make our gospel witness more effective by caring for others.
Listen for Stories
No two people have the same story. Our stories include all that has led us to be who we are today. Our environment, our influences, our hurts, our sins, our gifts, our weaknesses—everything that we have experienced has played a role in shaping who we are today.
Hear the way people talk about what they value. Why do they value what they do? How do people spend their time? All of these questions help you get a glimpse of someone’s story.
Start with Them
Caring for people well means meeting them where they are, and oftentimes that’s far from where we want to start. Starting with their disposition or attitude towards religion, church, or a specific event can make a huge difference.
Caring for others means finding out what they care about. Jesus has modeled perfectly what it looks like to get on the same eye level as those you are hoping to reach. Literally, Jesus left his throne and took on flesh and blood to meet us where we were. The way of Jesus is starting with others.
Point to God
To paraphrase the Reformer Martin Luther, “We are just beggars telling other beggars where the bread is at.” We are just sign posts. We are not the end of the road. There will always be one who cares more than we do, who comforts better than we can, who listens better than we do. The best way we can care for others is by pointing them to the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.