What are you willing to do to add people to your local church? To what lengths are you willing to go? How clever are you willing to be? Are there limits?
If one were to examine the broad swath of churches in the United States, I think that one would conclude that there are indeed no limits to the lengths to which people will go to attempt to bring people into their churches. Some are publicly renouncing the Old Testament, suggesting that to disconnect from those old and hard stories will be more appealing to the modern mindset. Others are compromising God’s word when it comes to standards of sexuality or gender in order to appear more appealing, more open-minded, to a lost world. Others have gone to lengths of showmanship only rivaled by Disneyland as they seek to draw in a crowd hungry for entertainment.
But, if we look to the word of God, we should remember that, though we desperately long for the lost to be saved and the church to be strengthened, there are means that are unavailable to the faithful. There are lengths to which we dare not go. This is not for fear of our own personal loss, but it is out of a passionate commitment not to dishonor the Lord.
2 Corinthians 4:1-4 – 1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
In the letter of Second Corinthians, Paul is clear that he will not compromise the word of God in order to attempt to reach people for Christ. Paul will not use cunning. He will not tamper with Scripture. No, Paul’s practice is one that is committed to faithful, open, clear proclamation of the word of god.
What about those who do not believe? Paul is clear in this paragraph that he knows that not all will believe. But Paul does not attribute their unbelief to his unwillingness to compromise Scripture. Instead, Paul understands, inspired by the Lord, that the unbelief of the lost is due to the blindness of their minds, the deadness of their hearts, rather than to Paul’s unwillingness to play fast and loose with the Bible.
May we have a deep desire to see the lost saved. May we be eager to communicate the word of God to every ear we can reach. But may we, like Paul, renounce underhanded ways. May we turn from cunning strategies. And may we honor the Lord by clearly and simply proclaiming his word for all to hear.