by pastor david
(Matthew 5:11-12) “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Just imagine that you were taking a walk around your neighborhood and as you passed the fenced-in yard of a neighbor, his dog came running out, barking at you. How would you respond?
Would you say, “How dare that dog bark at me?” Or, “I’m offended that the dog barked at me!” Or, “Dogs should not bark at people.” Would you say, “Let’s get a campaign started to put an end to all dog barking”? Would you be tempted to send out a prayer request asking people to pray for you because you became the object of an animal’s growl?
You certainly would not. Why? Because barking is what dogs do. It is a part of their innate makeup – something they received from birth, over which they have little control. Dogs bark! Live with it!
That being true, then why are we so surprised and appalled when those who do not know Christ as personal Savior and Sovereign bark at us who are followers of Jesus? Why are we so caught off guard and offended when they rush up to our proverbial protective fence and growl at us? Why would we think that the person who does not know God through Jesus Christ would, in any way, agree with our belief system?
In the scenario above, the dog barked because, in his mind, you posed a threat to him. You were invading his territory and he was afraid. The reasons the unbelieving world barks and growls at the Christian are the same. They think you pose a threat to them (their lifestyle might have to change), you are invading their territory (your beliefs and worldview have no place in their culture), and they are afraid (they fear you might indeed be correct).
I have found that the best way to stop a strange dog from barking at me is to try to warm up to the animal. Let him know that you pose no threat and that you want to be his friend. Strangely enough, I think the same approach may work with barking, growling unbelievers.
How will we ever have the opportunity to share the Gospel with them if they fear us or if they perceive that we are a threat to them. How can we witness to them about the love of Jesus if we can’t even get close to them? They must get quiet enough to hear the Gospel for “it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16 NKJV).
Our task is difficult but simple. We must engage unbelievers in a conversation about Jesus and that cannot be accomplished from a distance. We must get close to them, without compromising our Biblical convictions, so they will listen to what Christ has done for us. At that point, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to “convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8 NKJV). As I like to remind folk, “The Power is in the Proclamation”!
As we consider those barking antagonists, let me make a few suggestions.
1. Find some common ground with the individual, something non-threatening about which both of you can
2. Listen carefully to his or her story. Ask questions about him. People love to talk about themselves.
3. Share some of your story; your life before and after coming to know Christ.
4. Share as much of His (Christ’s) story as possible. This may not happen in a single discussion. You will probably have to invest time in that person in order to give the whole story of the Gospel.
5. Invite them to church or Bible study or even a casual gathering with some of your Christian friends.
6. Continue to be their friend, regardless of their response to the Gospel. This is a processing generation. It may take time for them to grapple with the truth.
7. Be available to listen and discuss any questions they may have in the future.
8. Pray fervently for their salvation and let them know you are doing so.
Sometimes dogs bark. Live with it. Sometimes unbelievers growl and make a lot of noise. Live with it! Warm up to them. Get close enough to share the good news of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Pastor David Boggs
I hope these occasional posts will encourage and challenge you as we grow in Christ together.
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