But this election cycle has offered a few unique illustrations about things that actually do matter for eternity.
Today is election day in Louisiana, as Republicans in my home state head to the polls to determine who they want to represent the party in November's Presidential election. I have been a vocal supporter of Rick Santorum, because I believe that he comes closer to sharing my values than any of the other remaining candidates.
Just within the past week, however, I've run into a huge problem that has caused me to seriously rethink my support for Mr. Santorum, and his challenges on the campaign trail illustrate something valuable for anyone wishing to effectively fish for men.
Mr. Santorum repeatedly finds himself in the weeds in interviews and discussions. Instead of talking about his "vision" for America, his manufacturing jobs plan and other things that would help him get elected, he keeps getting stuck in the quicksand of stupid questions about contraception and other things.
But here's the problem: it's really simple to get out of that quicksand and onto the things that you want to talk about. It works like this:
Liberal Media guy: "Mr. Santorum, do you honestly believe that contraception should be banned? (Or whatever stupid question you want)
Santorum: "Mr. Liberal Media Guy, contraception is none of government's business. Here's what is government's business: gas prices are soaring, people are out of work, families can't pay their morgages. Here's what we're going to do about it.... blah blah blah."
See how easy that was? As a Presidential candidate, YOU steer the conversation to where you want it to go. You don't ignore the question, but you steer the answer back to your point.
How does that relate to evangelism?
When I'm talking with someone, they may try to steer me down a rabbit trail to distract from the Gospel. In a recent conversation, I went through the law to bring the knowledge of sin and presented the good news of the Gospel. The person's response was: "Well, how can you believe the bible when it's been translated and retranslated thousands of times?"
Now, I could have spent 30 minutes explaining texual criticism, which would undoubtedly lead to another objection and another hour of discussion. But I wanted to discuss the Gospel. I simply said, "Who's talking about the bible? You brought the bible up. I didn't. All I'm asking you to do is listen to your conscience. You know right from wrong because you have a conscience, without even talking about the bible. You know it's wrong to lie, and steal, and lust (adultery of the heart) and blaspheme, yet you do it anyway. You know that if God gives you justice, you'll be guilty and end up in Hell. And you don't need the bible to convince you of this. But Hell is not God's will for you..."
Like a savvy Presidential candidate, I steer the conversation. Instead of getting caught in the weeds like Mr. Santorum, I keep my eyes on where I'm headed - the cross - and I get back there as fast as I can. Paul said it this way:
"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.:
1 Cor 2:2 (NKJ)
Is this some sort of trickery or worldly wisdom? Well, Jesus did the same thing I'm talking about here. Watch:
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
Luke 13:1-5, (NKJ)
Jesus "answered and said to them..." In other words, these guys were like, "Why did this happen? Maybe it was this reason. Maybe it was that. Maybe they sinned. Maybe their family sinned." Jesus skipped right past all the speculation and questions. He went straight to the heart of the matter. He stayed on message and didn't miss a beat. Unless you repent, you will perish with all of your sidetracks and questions.
Keep your eyes on the cross. Respect the questions of others, but don't let them get you into the conversational weeds and derail you from reaching your destination.
Happy election day, Louisiana.