How do i reach out to people who aren’t blatantly sinful


I do not have a simple answer for you.   Jesus reached out to some very religious people.  That would include Nicodemus in John 3 and the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10.   In both cases his “method” was to very deeply challenge the heart and the level of commitment of these men.  He went for the inside, not the outside.  In one case, it appears to have worked (with Nicodemus) and in another it did not work (the Rich Young Ruler).   Another example is when Pricilla and Aquila met Apollos, who was a believer and was very religios.  In Acts 18:26 we are told that they took him where he was at, but taught him more adequately.  In this case, Apollos responded with humility and was baptized.

With more sinful people or less religious people, Jesus seems to have taken a more gentle approach–patiently answering their questions and gently but firmly calling them to repent.  He treated religious people more directly and strongly..  So, for very religious people we need to be more direct and to challenge on whether they are in fact disciples or merely religious and we need to, at the same time, not accuse them of having a bad heart, but take the time to teach carefully and adequately the things that they wree not taught correctly.  What is called for is patient and well-thought out teaching to explain the errors of what they were taught in their churces, combined with a strong and very direct call to discipleship and to repentance.   This is what I get from the three examples I have mentioned.

Be aware that these religious people generally already think they are saved.   If you teach more accurately and challenge them deeply, not all will receive this well.  Some will not appreciate what you are trying to do and will not repent.   The Rich Young Ruler is an example of this.  So, do not assume that this method will always “work” (defined as the person becoming a true Christian), but we should remember that God’s word never comes back empty (Isaiah 55:11), and it always does its work, even if we do not see a visible positive result.  Sometimes the result is that the hypocricy of the person you are studying with is revealed.  God is the judge of such people, and we should be content with that.

I hope this helps.

John Oakes

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