8/17/10 Jack, about 70
This morning I went to a park where some parents were watching their sons practice with the catholic high school football team. I asked an older, dignified looking gentleman (Jack) if he had any relatives on the team, and found out he was there to watch his grandson. As we carried on a light-hearted conversation, many people greeted him by name and I could see he was well-respected and highly esteemed within his sphere of influence. I, on the other hand, was not, so I needed to maintain a balance between maintaining my credibility as someone he would continue a conversation with, and sharing the gospel, which can be offensive. I believe the gospel is offensive to proud people who believe in their own goodness, because we have to help them see that compared to God's standard they are not, in fact, good. Yet I think we must do this in a winsome way so that we don't add to the offense with our own prideful or judgmental attitude, whether it is real or falsely perceived by our hearers. In this conversation I feel I maintained that winsome balance in several ways. 1.) I talked about various non-spiritual topics of interest to Jack, both before our spiritual conversation and for short times during as we sometimes got off on a tangent or when other people would greet him and he introduced me to them; 2.) I applied the good person questions to him, but after a certain point of discomfort applied them to myself also, and he could continue to see his own guilt by comparison; 3.) My line of reasoning was logical and made sense to him, and he was intrigued by my questions, even bringing them up to friends who came by; 4.) He could see I was bold in asking him some hard questions, yet not rigid like I was following some sort of script. He knew I truly listened as I responded to his questions and comments; 5.) I was simply planting seeds of truth, not trying to force him to be converted there on the spot. In the end, Jack is another church person to whom I gave a friendly reminder that Jesus died for sinners, not for "good" people.