In previous posts I’ve been considering how we should present the gospel to postmoderns. I’ve argued that asking questions and listening is an important first step to try to understand what drives/motivates people. When we understand their idols we can present the gospel in a way which exposes the inadequacies of those idols.
Here's an example of what I might say to someone who seems shy and in need of approval from others. I might talk of how we were made to be in an exciting relationship with God but, because we are all selfish and self-seeking, God has withdrawn Himself from us. Yet that need for a relationship with God is still there, albeit now corrupted. As a result we end up insecure and yearning for acceptance but look for it from people instead of from God. Thus we are always worried about what people think of us or say about us. We need their approval. We need them to like us. We need to know we're 'ok'. That deep need is in all of us. But because we're all messed up we don't get the acceptance we crave. What little we get doesn't satisfy our need. We're still worried about what people think of us the next day. This is because we're trying to satisfy what we were made for with something that wasn't made to satisfy that need. The problem is because we've rejected God, we deserve His punishment, yet, because God loves us, He sent His Son Jesus who was perfect in every way, yet was killed for our rebellion against Him, so that God could be both just and merciful. Now you can have lasting acceptance with God, through faith in Christ Jesus. He will never reject you. Even in your darkest day, He will always accept you. After all he died for you for that very purpose. Man will never give you the ultimate acceptance and affirmation you long for because it requires them to be good to you and you to earn it. People make unreliable and crummy gods and, even if you do a great job some days, there's no guarantee you get the acceptance you think you deserve or desire. Even if the people from whom you seek acceptance are just and give “credit where its due”, what if you mess up? It’s a constant struggle hoping you’ll be accepted. It’s a form of slavery. To God, all our sin, including things that nobody else sees such as worrying about what people think of us, is adultery. And God is a God of justice. He has to do what is right. Justice has to be done. He has to punish sin. Yet He is also a God of perfect love. That is why Jesus bore the punishment we deserve, so that God’s justice is satisfied and He can have mercy on us. God is the only one who is truly good and loving, the only one would did all the perfect hard work for you and died for you so that you could be accepted for ever. Why would you reject that? Why worry about whether people accept you when you could rest in the perfect, unquestioning, unfailing love and acceptance of the God who never forgets about you or gets angry with you and who only ever works for your ultimate good?
Too much evangelism either glosses over the problem of sin or focuses on outward behaviour. Jesus said that it is what comes out of our hearts that defiles us thus the aim is to go after the motivations of their hearts not their external behaviour. Make sense?