There is a part of the shopping mall I avoid. It’s where they give out free samples of perfume and makeup. The salespeople there are quite annoying. If I even glance their direction, I end up stuck. I have to listen to their speech about a product I don’t want. Pushy evangelists feel the same way. I hate the idea of forcing people, in any way, to “listen to the gospel.” Yet, we have a life-saving message. How pushy should we be in our evangelism?
Many cultures teach us that to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or forced to do anything, is wrong. The big unspoken rule in evangelism today is “Don’t make them feel pressured.” I have been wondering. Is that a biblical way of thinking about sharing the gospel or not?
Jesus Said Compel Them To Come In
Jesus told a story in Luke 14 about a great banquet. The master invited many guests. But those people made excuses and didn’t want to come to His feast. He then told His servant to go and invite the lame, blind and poor. Having done this, there was still room at the party table. Finally, this.
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.” Luke 14:23 NIV
God’s Passion For His House To Be Full
This passage shows us God’s great passion. It’s reflected in the instruction of the master. The master is determined that His house be full. It is not okay with Him that only a few come to the great feast He has prepared.
God is not happy with an underpopulated Heaven. It’s not a neutral issue for God. Sometimes we get the idea that God doesn’t care that much. Here is the gospel. Take it or leave it. Not very interested? No problem. I wouldn’t want you to feel uncomfortable.
That is not a biblical way to think! It’s not how Jesus described the Father. No. Instead, He tells us to compel people to come into His Kingdom. The word compel means to “force or oblige (someone) to do something.” It definitely has the sense of pressure being applied.
In many cultures, there is a high value for tolerance. This is true in the West and it’s also seen in Buddhism and Hinduism. These worldviews say, “All roads lead to god. You do your thing, I will do mine. There is no such thing as truth. If you think your way is better or right, you are being arrogant.” It’s difficult in this environment to present a message that says Jesus is the only way to the Father. Yet it is the truth. It is a saving and transforming truth.
We need to be sensitive to culture. It is important to understand that putting too much pressure on someone too early can turn them away. But if we love the lost people in our lives, at some point, we must urge them, or at least invite them, to make a decision to receive Christ. To fail to do that is not truly loving them. It is living in fear of their rejection. It shows we value their liking us more than we value them.
We can not live in fear. Show genuine love to your neighbors, family and unsaved friends. Prove that love by gently, lovingly, inviting them to receive Jesus as Lord.
Rescuing My Daughter
Let me close with this story. One evening, long ago, our family walked through a market area in Kathmandu. Our daughter was about seven years old. We were on our way to a restaurant to eat. Suddenly, she let go of my hand and ran across the busy street. In the process, she was hit by a bicycle and knocked to the pavement. She ended up with a terrible gash in her head and stitches. We were lucky. It could have been much worse.
As she ran, I screamed out her name, “Steffi! Stop!” I lunged forward to try to grab her. I did this with great urgency. No hesitation was there. Nor did I worry about offending her or being too pushy. My love for her compelled me to take action to rescue. I desperately wanted to pull her away from life-threatening danger.
Willing To Invite
Does God’s love compel you to action? Are you willing to take a risk and boldly invite someone into the Kingdom? We can not say we love the unreached around us if we are unwilling to share the gospel with them and if after sharing, we don’t then invite them to accept it. It may not feel comfortable, but if we don’t share, they will never hear. And when we share, if we don’t ask, they can’t accept what we share about.
Would you pray with me?
Lord Jesus, please help me today to be willing to be uncomfortable. Even if I am seen as a bit pushy, even if I am rejected, I will share Your good news and invite people to accept You as Savior. I believe the gospel is a message that rescues and saves. Make me willing to boldly share it with the many around me who have never heard. Amen.