I was speaking with a friend of mine recently and he made mention that he prefers to get to know someone and build a relationship before he shares the Gospel with them. My response was, “So do I”. Now before you get the wrong idea, the conversation continued through the usual thoughts of what happens if they were to die tomorrow and you never get the opportunity to share with them, etc., but my final statement was that I agree and prefer to get to know someone before I share the Gospel with them.
Tonight was the perfect example of true friendship in evangelism. My family and I were out for a walk with our dog, and were letting our three year old direct which roads we would take. This led us in a direction we had walked before, but not often. On our way home we ran into a lady we had never seen before in her mid to late eighties mowing her lawn, and obviously looking for a break. She saw the kids and said hi. My little girl is exceedingly outgoing and was first to respond with an enthusiastic, “Hi!” Within minutes we were discussing her grandson’s experiences in college and her daughter’s ex-husband’s bad habits. It was at this point that I decided to really get to know her and make a lasting friend.
As the conversation came to a lull I asked her if she was a Christian. Just the simple question, “Are you a Christian?” She was startled slightly by it at first but answered yes, and I noticing the hesitation said, “You are a Catholic”, and she repeated yes. This brought up the conversation of Catholic churches in the area as my wife and I were Catholic before we were saved. The conversation then was easy enough to transition into other churches in the area her children had taken her to that were too loud, and did not have the same feel she was used to in her Catholic churches. Bringing the conversation full circle back to her rebellious grandchildren and problems with her ex- son- in- law, we discussed the nature of sin in the world and how it affects our relationships, and how the Law of God is a light to our feet, and can guide our way. We discussed the specific sins that ruin our relationships and condemn us before a perfect and Holy God. We discussed how glorious it was that Jesus Christ humbled Himself coming down from heaven to be born of a virgin, lived the perfect sinless life that we could not, and died taking the punishment for our sin on the cross. Finally, we discussed the fact that in His resurrection we have hope that our sin is paid for, and that through repentance and faith in Him we are eternally rescued from our sin and the sin of this world.
The conversation had to come to an end as my children needed to go to bed, and she needed to finish her lawn. Departing we invited her to church on Sunday, and she invited us to a concert at Humboldt Park this Tuesday at 7pm. With a friendly good-bye from both children and from us we, parted ways to continue on home.
I had never seen her before, but within minutes we knew quite a bit about each other as neighbors and as sinners in need of grace. We had enough time to build a friendship that Lord willing may last an eternity. I do believe in friendship evangelism, I just believe in making friends as quickly as possible so that the friendship can last as long as eternity. Who in your neighborhood has not heard the Gospel?