“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (New International Version, Romans 12:1). How can we Christians follow God’s instruction to do that? People today are more selfish, more self-absorbed, more isolated, more busy, more prideful, more broken, more depressed, more lonely, and more hurting than ever before!
Here’s how. We overcome evil with good by sharing with people the good news that Jesus died for them to give them a future hope of heaven and a heavenly relationship with Him right now.
People Need the Lord
As the popular Christian song says, “People need the Lord!” They need the love and peace that only a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus can give them. But how do we give the gospel to them? How do we present it in a way that is appealing to them and doesn’t turn them off? To answer that question, I have to first tell you (pardon the pun) a “veggie tale.”
When my daughter (now 14) was 2, my wife and I read a magazine article that described the health benefits of feeding your children raw foods. My daughter would eat raw fruits enthusiastically, but she wouldn’t touch raw vegetables with a 10-foot pole.
I decided to be sneaky and hide the raw vegetables in her other food, but she was too smart and found them and threw them down with great drama and disgust. Then I decided to turn up the sneaky scale and blended the raw vegetables and mixed them in with her other food. But again her amazing taste buds told on me, and she refused. I was really stumped and ready to give up. My daughter would just have to do without the benefits of raw vegetables.
Raving for Raw!
Then I happened to read the magazine article again and discovered the solution: don’t force them to eat the raw vegetables. Get them to want to eat them! The author said that young kids love small, brightly colored things that are easy to hold, so she recommended getting cookie cutters in various kid-friendly shapes and cutting the vegetables with them. It worked! My daughter began eating all the raw vegetables we wanted her to—because of the way we presented them to her.
Right now you’re saying to yourself, “What does this have to do with sharing the gospel?” Well, I think it’s got lots to do with it. Here are Jesus’ instructions for sharing the good news of salvation with a dying world: “Stay alert. This is hazardous work I’m assigning you. You’re going to be like sheep running through a wolf pack, so don’t call attention to yourselves. Be as cunning as a snake, inoffensive as a dove” (Message, Matthew 10:16). Jesus is saying that He wants us to go and spread the gospel message; but He wants us to be smart about the way we do it—to think carefully and deeply about the most effective way to present it.
The Original Question
Now that you’ve heard my veggie tale, let’s get back to my original question: How do we present the good news of the gospel to people in a way that’s appealing to them and doesn’t turn them off?
We do the same thing I did for my daughter. We present it to them in a form that makes them like it and want more. But in order to do that, we need to get to know them, their lives, their likes and dislikes. We need to become acquainted with their world. We need to take the time to show that we care about them.
That’s what Jesus did. He and God the Father and the Holy Spirit created the plan of salvation. Then Jesus came to live among us in poverty before dying on the cross to save us from our sins. The Bible says of Jesus:
In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone. . . . The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us” (Contemporary English Version, John 1:1-14).
Don’t you think that after spending 30 years with the human race—as a human being walking among us—that Jesus understood us and what makes us tick? Then, and only then, was He ready to begin His formal ministry, which lasted only an additional three and a half years. At the end of that time He died to pay the penalty for every sin ever committed by a human being, so that everyone who has ever chosen to accept His sacrifice could be saved and have eternal life (see John 3:16, 17).
Now, if Jesus was willing to do that for us, and that was His process for bringing salvation to us, how much more should we, His followers, be willing to use His process of identifying with those whom we want to share the gospel message with?
“Calling all C3s!”
Jesus is coming back soon, and I want to bring to Him as many of my family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers as I can. It’s incredible that Jesus loved us enough to die for us, but it’s even more incredible that He trusts us enough to give us the privilege and responsibility of sharing His good news with the rest of the world. He asks you and me to be ambassadors for Him—to tell as many people as we can about His love, peace, forgiveness, joy, and salvation. The apostle Peter says: “The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe. Then the earth and everything on it will be seen for what they are. Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon” (2 Peter 3:10-12).
So what are you waiting for? Be a cookie-cutter Christian and present the gospel of Jesus to others in all its attractiveness!