September 1993 – I have met these people, many of them, during the past 16 years. I know when it is coming. I can hear it in the tone of their voice and their suggestions on how I should act to be a good Christian. They all make about the same points. Here is a general outline of their suggestions.
1. Jesus didn’t criticize people, therefore I should not criticize those who are responsible for filth on television or who produce and distribute pornography.
2. Jesus didn’t condemn anyone, He loved them. They usually point to the woman caught in the act of adultery on this one. They even quote me scripture: “Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more.”
3. Jesus lived His life so that people respected Him and sought to follow Him. As Christians, we need to live our lives in a similar manner. That means that we don’t disagree with anyone, but rather try to convince them by our actions rather than our words.
4. Jesus made friends with everyone. He accepted everyone. He was friends even with those with whom He disagreed. He didn’t turn them off simply because they disagreed with Him.
As a young minister I read a story told by J. Wallace Hamilton, a preacher of note who died in 1968. It seems that a non-too-dignified, but somewhat successful, preacher was preaching at a chapel service at a large and respected university. Now this preacher was not a good public relations person. He was somewhat unreserved and preached what many would call a straight-forward, perhaps even blunt, sermon. I’m sure that you have heard that kind. He called sin: sin. Then laid out the plan of salvation. He just wasn’t a very tactful preacher because he offended some who were present with his bluntness.
Following his sermon, he was met at the back by one of the professors. Calling the preacher aside, he told him that he had preached a good sermon but that if he would change it just a little, not be so straight-forward, that he could do so much more good. “You know,” the professor said, “if you will search the scriptures you will find that Jesus was the most loving, non-condemning, forgiving, helpful person who ever lived. I’m simply suggesting that you make your sermons as tactful as Jesus made his. It would really help your ministry.”
The preacher thought for a little. “You think I need to be more tactful?” he asked.
“I think it would be a big help to your ministry, ” said the professor.
“Was Jesus a tactful person?” the preacher asked.
“The most tactful person who ever lived, “ responded the professor.
The preacher thought a little mor, the spoke. “Professor, please answer a question for me. If Jesus was the most tactful person who ever lived, how did He manage to get Himself crucified?”
The professor did not answer the question.
Moral of story: When you take a stand for right, you are going to offend someone because of that stand.