Have you ever been a part of a Bible class that just didn’t have very good discernment? It seems like some of the members just don’t understand when it is appropriate to make certain comments or to have disagreements over certain issues. You have been working on bringing someone to church for a year, they finally come, and class is a disaster! You have a fairly easy, home run text, like John 1 and it turns into a messy argument over minutia that is fairly embarrassing. You wonder if your friend will ever return and you wonder if these long-time Christians will ever learn discernment and restraint.
That brings me to my question about discernment and non-Christians. Have you ever wrestled with just how much to tell seekers at particular times in their journey? You want to be honest with them but at the same time you don’t want to scare them away at the very beginning. There are truths about the cost of discipleship, the reality of making sacrifices in your life for Christ, the reality that in a way you even become a sacrifice (Rom 12:1)!
At what cost do we water down the truths of our faith? What kind of disciple is formed out of a misrepresented presentation of what it means to be a Christian? How many people become Christians only later to find out that there is a real cost involved because someone didn’t want to tell them those things and scare them off? This takes discernment. We need to pray for discernment and maturity in how we present the Gospel to non-Christians. Jim McGuiggan once preached that it would be better for us to “leave them alone” than to preach a watered down Gospel that results in non-committed Christians because they are worse off to know and fall away than to have never known in the first place. This is a tough challenge and one that must be faced with prayer and study. Let us never short-change the gospel of Christ. Let us never call people to something that is not the Gospel at all. Let us be bold because we are calling people from death to life. Yet let us be gentle because we are holding people’s lives in our hands and that comes with great responsibility.