Sharing the Gospel does not always produce fruit right away.
There is that infrequent experience where a receptive heart welcomes Christ in immediately. However, I have found that people often respond in one of three ways: (1) People are sceptical, (2) others get angry and (3) others still, apathetically agree.
The sceptic typically wants to debate, usually with scientific evidence or philosophical theory. Yet what Jesus did, though there is evidence of what took place; it can’t be explained scientifically or philosophically. Nevertheless, a willingness to debate means the Gospel can be shared. After the debate, thoughts may change and a heart can soften.
It can be a frightening thing when anger comes to the service during the sharing of the Gospel. Many times, as you listen to the person’s story, they have been tragically hurt by the church or someone who represents Christ in some way. Even still, that anger can be very positive. It shows they care. The Gospel means something and it weighs on their mind.
Then there is the apathetic. To me, this is the most tragic response. Typically, they agree with everything you tell them, responding with statements like, “I agree; we all need spirituality in our lives.” Or perhaps, “I agree; there is a higher power over all of us.” In your mind, you say to yourself, “This person has no idea what I’m saying!“
The apathetic is in a state of I’m okay, you’re okay. I believe this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 13, “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” (13:13) No matter how many verses we quote, there is a complete blockage to understanding.
I believe Satan wants to trick us into thinking that the sceptic debater and angry victim are the lost causes. We often choose to avoid these types of people; speaking only to those who will agree with us (like the apathetic agreer). Yet, the conversation of the Gospel should be equally layered amongst all people, but worded very differently.
- The sceptics will require us to know our Scripture well! We may also have to study apologetics a little bit. Throughout the debates, pray for the Holy Spirit to move.
- The hurt and angry will require us to listen more than speak. Often, many of them already believe, but they need soft responses to allow their defences to be pulled back.
- The apathetic will be the easiest to speak to, but the hardest to find authentic fruit. Keep the conversation flowing, peppered with fervent prayer.
What responses have you received after sharing the Gospel? How did you respond in return? What steps did you take in follow-up conversations?