Okay, he didn’t use those words… but that’s what he was talking about. He said that we need to make a distinction between the way we communicate the gospel to those who hear for the first time, compared with those who have embraced and then rejected the good news. He used a somewhat fitting metaphor: “A person must court a virgin differently than a divorcee. One welcomes the charming words; the other needs a demonstration of love to overcome inbuilt skepticism.â€?
I think it’s fair to say that in the west, we’ve moved past the age of Christendom (I think I’m preaching to the choir, so I’m not going to belabour supporting that statement). And in this milieu, the people whom we encounter have largely already filed for divorce from Christianity, or from religion in general. To reach these people, our words won’t cut it — no matter how strongly we cry the necessity of proclaiming the gospel, deaf ears will ever be deaf ears. The response is missional: a demonstration of love is required, a commitment to listen more than we talk, and just to be present on terms other than our own.
In other words, if we want people to believe God loves them, we first need to show that we love them.