I’ve been rereading J.I. Packer’s Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God today and appreciated his understanding of Paul’s evangelistic impulse as the extension of his love for his neighbor. Speaking for myself, I would much rather throw truth at my neighbor and expect him to catch it barehanded. But, as Packer explains, Paul wasn’t like that:
“Paul sought to save men; and because he sought to save them, he was not content merely to throw truth at them; but he went out of his way to get alongside them, and to start thinking with them from where they were, and to speak to them in terms that they could understand, and above all to avoid everything that would prejudice them against the Gospel, and so put stumbling-blocks in their path. In his zeal to maintain truth he never lost sight of the needs and claims of people. His aim and object in all his handling of the Gospel, even in the heat of the polemics which contrary views evoked, was never less than to win souls, by converting those whom he saw as his neighbors to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Chapter 3).
I want to be changed into the kind of man who is more zealous to pursue relationships with those with whom I disagree for the Gospel’s sake than I am jealous to defend my own freedom. I’m not there. But I want to be.