The Straightforward Approach

John A. Keith

I was recently asked what “angle” I take when answering a question about a particular denomination. My immediate response surprised even me: “I don’t take an angle, I use the truth, straight on.” I began to think that retort was a bit harsh, but, in retrospect, I believe it was very fitting.

When I was a kid, I loved to play baseball. If there were no other kids around, I would practice alone by throwing a baseball against a block wall and then retrieving it as quickly as possible. If I threw the ball straight against the wall, it naturally came straight back to me. If I threw it at an angle, it would careen off to the side. The sharper the angle, the further and faster I had to run to catch it (simple physics).

We need to use the same straight-ahead approach in our teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. The gospel is “the power of God unto salvation” according to brother Paul in Romans 1:16. We do not need a covert approach to people or some kind of an angle. We simply must preach the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). If we use some angle to present the truth to our denominational friends, or anybody else outside of Christ, they have to run further and harder to get it. If we present the truth with a straightforward approach (no angle) it will be more easily understood and, Lord willing, received.

When Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, he did not suggest that those Jews might have been, somehow, remotely involved with the death of Jesus. He said,“Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:” (Acts 2:22-23). What an indictment! “That doesn’t sound very loving,” someone might say. I say that was the most loving way Peter could have gotten the attention of those hell-bound people. If you are in danger of being run over by a car, I am not going to walk over, place my hand on your shoulder, tenderly look you in the eye, and suggest you move to the side. There will be a sense of urgency. I will come running, waving my hands.

Often, a more moderate approach is warranted, like Peter’s message to Cornelius and his household in Acts 10. No sharp rebukes are recorded. Yet, Peter approached them straight-on with the message they needed to hear. 

I suppose that some take an angular approach to teaching and preaching because they do not want to sound “judgmental.” They are cowering to the “judge not” crowd, forgetting the Bible also says, “[J]udge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Others may have adopted the politically correct mindlessness that is trying to change the church of our Lord, not to mention handcuffing our country. 

Beloved brethren, the bottom line is this: there are folks in this world who are spiritually starving to death and dying of thirst. We must, with urgency, use the most direct, straight-forward route possible to supply nourishment to these dying ones. 2 Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” -70 Gale Ave., Newport OH 45768. (740) 473-2528

Return to West Virginia Christian