Following the Objective Approach
A truly Christian church will always be evangelistic, for only the church that lives by capture can hope to live at all. But if our evangelism is carried forward in the objective spirit of one who has made a noteworthy discovery and has a passion to share it with others, rather than in the subjective spirit which seeks to correct and dominate another, we can more confidently expect success. "We have found the Messiah," cried one of the first disciples, as he hurried to share his discovery with his friend. "Come, see a man, which told me all things," was the missionary slogan of the Samaritan woman. And the record continues, "Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him"—the most natural thing to do. If we play the role of a host, spreading the table to share with others the spiritual feast, our preaching will then not merely warn, it will win.
Attitude Toward Other Ministers
What are our objectives as we enter a new field? Do we go there merely to make Adventists, or is ours a wider field of setvice than just adding new members to our own church? Do we have any responsibility to the community?
It is recorded that when Jesus passed through a city, He healed all that were sick. We have no reason to feel that these sick ones had given any previous evidence of a willingness to follow the doctrinal teachings of the Master. Instead, it was His great heart of love that moved Him to help the needy. His heart was moved with compassion when He beheld the multitude.
And how do we relate ourselves to the ministers of the various churches in the vicinity ? Our attitude to them may in a great measure influence our results. Of course we have a message to bear, and we should never feel under necessity to withhold any phase of the truth for this time. But do we reveal an egotistical, self-sufficient attitude, leaving the impression that we are there as correctors of heretics, or is our attitude one of friendly, Christlike humility? The following counsel from the messenger of the Lord sets some objectives before us that we do well to ponder.
"When our laborers enter a new field, they should seek to become acquainted with the pastors of the several churches in the place. Much has been lost by neglecting to do this. If our ministers show themselves friendly and sociable, and do not act as if they were ashamed of the message they bear, it will have an excellent effect, and may give these pastors and their congregations favorable impressions of the truth. . .
"Our laborers should be very careful not to give the impression that they are wolves stealing in to get the sheep."—Review and Herald, June 13, 1912.
"Much has been lost by our people through following such narrow plans that the more intelligent, better-educated classes are not reached. . . . It requires much wisdom to reach ministers and men of influence. But why should they be neglected as they have been by our poeple? . . . Should there not be deeper study and much more prayer for wisdom, that we may learn how to reach these classes ?"— Id., Nov. 25, 1890, p. I.
The Winsomeness of Sympathy
How sympathetic the Saviour was, even to His persecutors—to those who were fast nailing Him to the cross ! "Father, forgive," He said ; "they know not." Some things men do just because they know not. They are unacquainted with their real nature. Someone has said, "To know all, is to forgive all." That is why Jesus forgave.
What a complexity is the soul of man in its fallen condition ! "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do," declared the apostle Paul. Is not this a true portrayal of human nature?
Some scientists, we are told, have succeeded in grafting one portion of an insect upon another in the pupa state. The vivisector may take the pupa of a butterfly and graft it onto the pupa of a spider. This, of course, is wonderful, but it is also tragic. For the result in the final stage is a creature with "a passion for sunshine and a love for darkness." To use the descriptive words of Doctor Watlington, it has "a longing for roses and a thirst for blood, demanding inconsistent satisfaction. A creature perplexed within itself, afraid of itself, devouring itself." Is not this abortion a picture of man's unsanctified soul? Men do what they, do because of a warped nature, rather than as a result of downright wickedness. Surely we should be sympathetic to souls whom sin has thus distorted ! We must do more than correct or direct. It is our work to lead men to become partakers of the divine nature, but as leaders our strength lies in our sympathetic approach rather than our dogmatic assertion. It takes a big heart to be a real soul winner.
Mrs. Lincoln, in speaking of her husband, once declared, "His heart is as big as his arms are long." And Abraham Lincoln's arms were unusually long ! Yes, his heart was big. That made him a great leader in a crisis. Sympathy and kindness have a language of their own—a universal language. The one who learns that language has gone seventy-five per cent of the way toward success.
R. A. A.