A Question of Offense

“Leave as Friends”

A popular door knocking program that has been used to evangelize for Christ has at its center a singular principle: Leave as friends. This can be seen with the idea that while the ultimate goal of any encounter with a prospect in the world is teaching the Gospel and conversion, at the very least (if they are uninterested) leave on a positive, friendly note. This is a generally good principle as it plants a seed that could one day grow to fruition.

This principle also seems to follow the attitude of Paul toward evangelism, whereby he became “all things to all men, so that [he] may by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:22, NASU). Leaving as friends requires understanding the people you are speaking with and choosing one’s own words carefully as “seasoned with salt” (Col. 4:6). It requires a calm, controlled attitude and voice, despite some who would act out angrily toward you.

This idea of “leaving as friends” may be seen in “not giving offense,” which itself requires knowing what offends in terms of culture, language, etc. Generally, choosing to avoid offense leaves the door open for the Gospel, but there is an important exception.

The Exception

It is important to contrast this somewhat “Pauline” idea of “leaving as friends” with the interaction between Jesus and the Pharisees in Mat. 15. In this exchange, Jesus was very direct and blunt with His language pertaining to the wanton hypocrisy of the Pharisees. It is after these words that His disciples became worried, warning Jesus, “Do You know the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?” (15:12). What is important in this exchange is not that the Pharisees were offended, but why they were offended. They were offended by the truth of God’s Word.

It is here we find that, as Christians, it is of greatest benefit to ensure that no obstacles exist between us and the world we are trying to reach. If at all possible, we should strive to maintain a friendly relationship with those we are trying to reach, if only to leave the seed of possibility open. However, there may come a time when we must cause offense and might leave as enemies, and that time is when the Word of God is threatened.

Danger, Danger!

The greatest danger is when some well-meaning Christians in their pursuit to “leave as friends” no matter what, choose to compromise the truth itself, just because it might cause offense. In such a case, what kind of a “friend” are you really trying to be?

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