Monday, October 03, 2005


Fad-free evangelism

When I wrote the other day on The tyranny of the stronger, I neglected to mention one of the reasons why some Christians have gone in for body piercing, tattooing, etc.: by adopting the, er, cutting-edge customs of certain sub-groups, they claim that they will be in a better position to gain a hearing for the Gospel within those sub-groups. In other words, getting one's eyebrow pierced is now far more than a fashion statement: it's a witnessing tool. For Scriptural support, they refer to 1 Corinthians 9:22, wherein Paul writes, "I am made all things to all men, that I may by all means save some."

To the able arguments that have already been offered by Phil Johnson and Michael Spencer, I'd just like to comment that such drastic measures as patronizing the local tattoo parlor are hardly necessary to reach out to our lost neighbors. For one thing, fads and fashions are in constant flux, so our pierced missionary-wannabee is soon going to find himself without many pierced sinners to whom to be a witness. Besides, there are much easier ways to reach out to your neighbor. Granted, they're not nearly as visually dramatic as a pierced tongue, but they are tried and true. Above all, obey God's Law to love your neighbor as yourself. Treat that pierced, tattooed metalhead with kindness, gentleness, and respect. Try to overlook his outward appearance and grab hold of his heart. Be his friend, and speak with him accordingly. Perhaps he's adopted his peculiar appearance as a misguided defense mechanism for fending off people who don't truly care about him. If you'll be a true friend to him--remember that Jesus was known as a friend to sinners--I doubt that he'll mind your "straight" appearance.

A while back, I had the opportunity to converse with a young man in his early teens. He wasn't quite yet driving age, but yet his urge to ride some kind of motorized wheels was very strong, so he boasted about how he'd been riding a motorcycle around the country roads in his area. He was especially proud that the police hadn't caught him (yet). What's more, he boasted that just gotten himself a new tattoo. As he shared this intelligence with me, he kept talking about how cool these things were, so I figured I may as well reply in kind. I told him something along these lines. "So, you think that's cool! Any fool can get on a cycle and not get caught. Let me tell you what's cool. I've been driving over twenty years, and I've never been ticketed once. I obey the traffic laws, and I've not caused a single accident. Now, I think that's cool!" As I started to carry on in this manner, he did look at me rather strangely, but once I'd finished, he looked me in the eye and said, "You know what, I like you. You're different." I don't remember exactly how the rest of the conversation went, but I recall that it was friendly and respectful, albeit with noticably less boasting on the part of the young man. Although I'd never rode a 'cycle and had nary a tattoo, I'd approached him with respect, and quickly received his respect in turn.

My friend, there's just no need to make yourself into a "clone" of your neighbor to reach out to him. Just love him as yourself. Treat him with kindness and respect, and look beyond his outward appearance. There's no need to adopt today's fads and fashions to be an ambassador of Christ. Just love your neighbor, preach the Word, and trust God to do the rest.

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