There is a popular phrase many Christian leaders are using, and at first glance, it sounds very epic and awesome. Here it is:
”We will do anything short of sin to reach people for Christ.”
Now before I go into detail here about my thoughts on the subject, I do want to say that I’m not sure that this is a right or wrong issue. I have plenty of friends who use this phrase at their churches, and even in my own ministry have used it because of the energy the phrase brings to reaching people for Jesus. But after further review, I’ve been thinking through it and have the following issues with it:
- God gives the increase
Please don’t mistake me for a Calvinist, though I’m sure we have many similarities, however, in the end, no matter what we do, one thing is true: God brings people to himself. That is clear in Scripture. Of course that doesn’t mean we don’t have a part to play, but when we use the ASOS statement, we focus primarily on our part, and tend to under exaggerate God’s part in the process. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NLT): “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” So while we are called to “water and plant”, the ASOS statement tends to heighten our part in the process.
- Ironically, this brings us back to legalism
When we say we will do “Anything short of sin” to reach people, we take sin to a specific line that is materialistic in nature. In other words, Jesus made it clear that sin is less about specific rules and regulations and more a heart condition that keep us from hitting the mark that God wants us to hit. So the question I have when I hear the ASOS statement is “when did sin become a specific act again?” What are we really saying when we say that? Are we attempting to commandeer the heart of those doing evangelism? I should hope not.
- It’s amazing the lengths we will go to justify our own actions as being ‘’not sinful”.
Listen, I know your pastor is spiritual and has great intentions and has written books and is leading the way for the next generation of Christians to dominate our culture to make Jesus famous, but let’s be real for a second. The heart of man is pretty desperately wicked., and that includes me and even your pastor, so before a church finds itself hanging out at a line of “sin vs. not sinning”, I’m not sure that’s a line I’d want to be near, because I’d probably lose or fall or whatever I would do. Generally the three areas of sin we fall prey to are lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (that’s what I learned in doctrine classes anyways, so it has to be true). The pride of life can reach into every heart, including church leadership, so those lines are pretty scary to balance yourselves on.
Anyways, I get why people say it. It’s a cool statement that propagates urgency in the context of evangelism, and I’m not judging your pastor for using it, I just don’t think it’s a great phrase to use in the context of reaching the lost. I think I would appreciate if this statement went away from the church and pastors didn’t use it.
I would love to hear your opinions, however, so let me know. Am I being legalistic? Am I totally off base here?