Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Encouragement of a Discarded Tract

I spent Friday and Saturday evenings with my cross at the corner of Soledad Canyon Road and Sierra Highway, in Canyon Country (CA). Mahria and Amanda joined me on Friday evening, and Marissa joined me on Saturday evening. This particular intersection is fast-becoming one of my favorite local fishing ponds. It has lots of vehicle and pedestrian traffic and, with buildings on every corner, good acoustics for Stop Light preaching. The pedestrian traffic is a good mix of English and Spanish-speaking people, which gives me the opportunity to distribute tracts in both languages.

When Marissa and I arrived at the corner on Saturday evening, we immediately spotted one of the Spanish "Good Person" tracts (pictured above) torn and on the ground, near some bushes.

I have often heard Christians bemoan the fact that the gospel tracts they distribute are sometimes crumbled, torn, even burned before being tossed to the ground or into a trash can. Some Christians see such discoveries as failed evangelism attempts.

Some will see the above photo and count it as evidence against the effectiveness of gospel tracts, in conveying the gospel--Christians who see the manner in which the message is delivered as more important than the content of the message, Christians who see the distribution of gospel tracts as passe, unbelievers who read this blog and are predisposed to discount most if not all biblical evangelism methods, and blogosphere trolls who have only one gear in their communication transmission: negativity.

When I see a discarded gospel tract I smile--not because someone rejected the message (I pity such people), but because someone took the time to read at least a portion of the tract. I'm encouraged when I see a crumpled gospel tract on the ground. I count discarded gospel tracts as evangelistic wins.

I talk to evangelists from around the world. Sometimes they communicate their discouragement about not seeing more positive responses to the gospel, or about the amount of rejection and the level of animosity toward the gospel. My response is usually the same.
The only time we fail in evangelism (presuming it is done biblically) is when we fail to evangelize. The legitimacy and power of the gospel is not determined by the response of the person with whom it is shared. Salvation is of the Lord. Our responsibility, as Christians, is to obediently love God and to selflessly love people. And there is nothing more loving we will ever do for another human being than to speak the truth in love--to share the law and the gospel with them. They are responsible for their sin and their decision, and God is sovereign over all things, including salvation.
These truths apply to all aspects of evangelism, including discarded gospel tracts.

While it is true that some people will discard a gospel tract before ever perceiving what it is or before ever reading the tract, more often than not well-written, biblical gospel tracts are discarded for one of two reasons: the person was either convicted by the Law of God (Romans 2:15; Romans 3:19-20) or their hatred of Jesus Christ (John 3:19-20; John 15:23; Romans 1:28-32) is such that the mere mention of His name, even in written form, is offensive to them (1 Corinthians 1:18). A well-written, biblical gospel tract assaults the self-righteous and exposes the futility of their erroneous perceived goodness (Proverbs 21:2) while, at the same time, revealing their hatred of God (Romans 1:28-32). Is it any wonder some people destroy gospel tracts and discard them as trash?

If you are an unbeliever (someone who is not a born-again Christian) reading this and you have discarded a gospel tract in the past because you disliked or did not believe how the person in the mirror (you) compared to the mirror of God's law, yet for whatever reason you still believe God hears and answers your prayers (I mention this because I've talked to many people who believe this way), then know this. "If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9). God ignores your prayers. They are an abomination to Him. Repent and believe the gospel.

The reality is this. When you die, you are going to stand before God and give an account for your life. Because God is good, He is going to judge you according to the perfect, moral standard of His Law. If you've ever lied, stolen, taken His name in vain, He will find you guilty of breaking His Law. And because God is good, He must punish your sin; and the punishment God has ascribed for sin is eternity in Hell.

But God is also merciful, loving, and kind in that He provided one way to escape that punishment; and that was through the gift of His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ: fully-God and fully-Man, without sin. He died a horrible, bloody death on the cross that He did not deserve in order to take upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God. And then three days later He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave.

What God requires of you is that you repent--that you turn from your sin, and by faith and by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me."

So, please, repent and believe the gospel while God has given you time.

You can discard this blog post if you like. Some will mock what I've written, here, while revealing their cowardice by hiding behind complete anonymity and pseudonyms. It will change nothing. God is still God and what He requires of every person remains unchanged.

Oh, and if you made it this far, you just read a gospel tract. That makes this post, like most discarded gospel tracts, a successful evangelism opportunity.