Luke 7:31-35 (NASB95)
34 “The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ 35 “Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
The Gospel writer Luke used the word friend more than any the other writers in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, it seemed to be one of his favorite words. Recently, I heard Tim Keller parenthetically say in one of his sermons,
“You will be about as good at evangelism as you are friendship.”
At first I reacted against the statement, thinking to myself – “I know guys that are not very friendly, yet who are very effective at evangelism”. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that their soul winning was primarily reserved for the pulpit. In “real life” they were ineffective. Then I thought through the people I had personally influenced for Christ outside of the pulpit, and almost without exception those who had borne the most fruit were friends before they were brothers or sisters. It seems, if you don’t have a lot of friends, you won’t win many souls. If you can make friends, you can win souls.
Filtering System Needed –
Why is the principal of friendship so important in evangelism? In his book – Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell suggestw that in business marketing and promotion makes very little difference in the overall scheme of things. Growth or success really happens through word of mouth, and then it is reinforced by effective advertisement.
You see, for every one hour of television you watch, you get nine minutes of commercials. The average person views 254 advertisements a day through billboards, radio, internet, etc. The more tech savvy you are, the more you get. Some are exposed to over 1000 promotions per day! Beyond that, information doubles every 2-3 years. In our lifetime we could see it double every two weeks. With all this stuff thrown at you, you need a filtering system to determine what is important and what is not. The way we filter what works and what is important is through the word of our friends. It is the recommendation of friends that gives us the information we need to know where to go on our next date night, which car to purchase, whether to go with a satellite or cable.
The word of our friends also helps us filter what is worthless religion from meaningful reality. The fact is, people make decisions about eternity based on the recommendation of their friends. For that reason, we must do our best to be strategic in giving our people opportunities to leverage the friendships they have developed for Christ. Evangelism begins with a friendship with a Christian, and ends with a friendship with Jesus Christ. Like Jesus, be a friend to sinners.