Could a doctor treat a patient without ever examining them? Not very well. Could a hair dresser cut or style hair without touching the client’s hair? No. In the same manner neither can Christians be of very much influence if we don’t go to and touch sinners. I know many have come from places in their lives they don’t ever want to go back to and this certainly takes some sensitivity and discernment. But neither can we isolate ourselves from all sinners once we become a Christian and still be an effective witness. Jesus’ model of evangelism is, He went where the sinners were. In fact He was even accused hanging out with them. “But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” (Lk 5:30) There is a risk we must take in getting our hands dirty and mingling with the sinners in order to be people of grace and share the love of God through the gospel. You may be criticized for your willingness to move closer. You must be careful and sensible about what you can do and where you can go. But a couple things are for sure: We are not going to reach anyone without reaching out to them. And we do need to find new ways to relate to them, just as medicine would not be very effective if we only used hundreds-of-year-old methods, neither will we be effective being rigid in our approach. We never change our message – but like Jesus, we are always changing our methods; after all the goal is to reach the lost.
Dr. William Burnham is pastor of Point of Grace Church in Covington. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.