Nowhere in the bible do you see the phrase “Soul winning”. I am a product of the 80’s/90’s Evangelism Explosion days. Being in a youth group those days and living in Milwaukee there were many times our youth group would go street witnessing. To this day the very concept makes me sick. This is where you would “pray up” before you head out to the downtown streets and confront people. People that simply were going to get groceries, walking to enjoy the weather, etc. The assumption was everyone is going to hell. Even if you talked to someone that said they were a Christian, if they did not go to your church than they are going to hell. They never taught that but it was the assumption. If you saw a group of people sitting at a bus stop, you would use it as your captured audience and preach to them. Looking back, this was very disrespectful and shoots a person’s dignity right down the toilet. This approach really makes or has made Christians out to be jerks. On Sunday I talked about the parable of sheep and goats. I did not realize that some theologians refer to this parable as “the parable of the last judgment.” I really feel this parable nails it on the head on how to minister to people.
As Christians we are so grounded in the fact that we were created in God’s image. This really is the root then of how we should treat our neighbors. In the Old Testament “to love your neighbor” literally meant your fellow Jew. In the New Testament, Jesus is referring to everyone as our neighbor…this ticked off the Pharisees. Jesus came for the WHOLE world and died for ALL which is clearly stated in John 3:16 which would indicate “LOVE” has a lot to do with how we live. In the parable of the sheep and goats however what always gets me when I read it (I didn’t read it on Sunday, I showed Keith Green singing it in concert instead) is that he never mentions “you saved this many souls….which resulted in this many salvation's which also resulted in first time commitment cards....ENTER INTO YOUR REST!” Rather, the ones he is talking to who have done good (the sheep) simply were loving people. They were giving clothes to the naked, visiting the sick, meeting with those in prison. This really solidifies the fact for me that the way we show Christ’s love is not by being disrespectful to a person by insulting their intelligence at a bus stop. Rather by doing the simple things of love and charity for each other…this is how we are to act as Christians. I have to believe helping someone out on any level in any social class is far more effective in earning their respect to talk to than just walking up to someone and handing them a tract or babbling through a bullhorn. At the very core of a person we know that we were created in God’s image. Even those who are the most down and out (not just materially but emotionally as well) still have some sense of dignity. When a Christian comes alongside them and helps them in any way possible (“whatever you have done unto the least of these you have done unto me”)whether with clothing, money, food, a friend, emotional support…we begin to see this persons dignity grow stronger. When a person has a strong sense of dignity they walk with a spring in their step and a better attitude, an attitude of hope. This is when they know they have experienced the love of Christ.