Is Influence Enough?

Charles J. Aebi

Dear Aebi: “Why is our godly presence alone not enough to reach people for Christ?

Sometimes it may be, as in 1 Peter 3:12 (NKJV) “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear.”Even here, though, it sounds like the husband hears the word and refuses to obey it until over a period of time he is converted by the chaste, submissive conduct of his Christian wife.

Many people operate on the premise that all they have to do is live a good moral life, go to church, be a good neighbor, and otherwise behave and people will see them and want to do the things they do.Such could result in fewer confrontations and conflicts for us, but there are two problems with this idea: 

(1) Unless we or someone else tells them about the gospel, they will not know how to obey it or what to do to be saved.They might go to church and hear it, or they might read it in the Bible or in some gospel publication; in either case, they are being told, whether in print or by word of mouth.In some way, they must learn more about your faith than what they can know just by seeing your good deeds.An Atheist could do good deeds; a Buddhist regularly does.

(2) It is the Christian’s obligation to tell people about our faith, about Christ and His church, about obeying the gospel.In this sense, every Christian can be a teacher and can help people understand the truth.Even if we feel that we cannot sit down with an open Bible and teach them all about God’s plan for our lives and for the church, we can tell them what we believe and why we believe it.It does not take a scholar to do this.For example, I had a friend, a good Christian man, who was not educated beyond elementary school.He bought a car that he liked, and he drove it to my house.He invited me to look at it.He lifted the hood and had me look at the motor.He wanted me to sit in the driver’s seat and look at the controls.They were arranged ergonomically, but he did not say that; he would not even have understood that word.However, he said it was a good car, and he invited me to drive him for several miles in it.I was convinced, so I bought a car of the same make.

Can we not do the same with the gospel?Tell people about the church and invite them to come to worship and Bible study with us.Tell them how good the singing is, how inspiring it is to partake of the Lord’s supper every Sunday, and how blessed it is to give (Acts 20:35).Let them know you think the preaching and Bible study are helpful to you.Encourage them to experience it for themselves.Invite them to come to our covered dish dinners.If they can learn how good all these aspects of church life are and can also see that you set an example of good living and faithfulness, they will be more likely to be impressed with the value of your godly presence.–2660 Layman Rd., Vincent, OH

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