To his surprise and relief, on the other side of the door he discovers his parents and friends who are throwing him a surprise party. Seeing the small statue in his hand, his mother asks him, “Hugo, what are you doing with that?” He explains, “I don’t know. I thought there might be a prowler or something.”
Then his mother says something quite profound: “Jesus Christ is not a weapon.”
On my run this morning, I reflected on this statement and I realized that some Christians use Jesus Christ and the message of the gospel like a weapon. In an effort to get someone to make a decision for Christ, the gospel of God’s grace is delivered in ways that try to scare or intimidate someone to trust in Jesus.
Have you ever done that?
Have you tried to scare someone into becoming a Christian?
Have you used guilt to communicate their need for salvation?
My friend Tom Clegg notes: “People’s response points have changed. What worked effectively in the past doesn’t necessarily connect with society nowadays. Yesteryear’s appeal to guilt of duty doesn’t resonate well today…. Fear of dangling in hell doesn’t impact people because most seekers aren’t evens sure hell exists, and they are turned off by negative threats.” (Lost in America, p 42)
The gospel includes the Good News that a believer will not spend eternity in hell – but the gospel is more than a ticket out of hell.
The gospel is Good News! Proclaiming the Good News should not require using Jesus Christ as a weapon to beat someone up over their sin. The gospel is about a loving and holy God sending His Son to redeem sinners. It’s a message of love and grace and forgiveness and atonement and reconciliation. It’s Good News. It’s not a hammer.