Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How To Win Your Friends...Naturally

Today, I watched something remarkable on Youtube. I've included a link to the clip below, and I hope you can spare five minutes to watch this. But first, a little background. Penn Gillette is a member of the comedic duo of magicians known as Penn and Teller. If you're familiar with their act, he's the big guy who talks, as opposed to the little guy who doesn't. Gillette is also an outspoken atheist. In his video blog, "Penn Says," he shares the story of a man who recently gave him a Bible after watching his act. The link above is that blog post, in which he professes great admiration for the man, who he calls "A good, good man," and the way in which this man (apparently a Gideon) shared his faith. But he goes further than that, and this is the remarkable part of the video:

"If you believe in God and Heaven and Hell, and are afraid to talk about it because of social much do you have to hate someone to NOT prosletyze? If you believe that eternal life is real, how could you not try to convince people. If I thought a truck was about to hit you, I'd push you out of the way, and this is MUCH more important than that..." (These aren't direct quotes, but as close as I can come after watching the clip twice)

Gillette reaffirms his belief that there is no God and says, "One polite person is not enough to change that for me." But as an atheist, his logic is impeccable: If we as Christians don't share our faith with those who don't believe, either we don't truly believe this stuff, or we don't care about our non-Christian friends. Ouch!

Here's the link: NOTE: Gillette usually uses some pretty raw words in his act, so there is an "adult language" disclaimer at the beginning of the clip. However, I didn't hear anything objectionable in this particular segment.
It makes us think, doesn't it? It shows the kind of impression we can make on even the most skeptical person if we approach them with integrity, humility and a loving spirit. It also presents us with a tough question: If we believe the Gospel and we love the lost, why don't we share our faith?

This Sunday, I'm beginning a sermon series called, "How to Win Your Friends...Naturally." That's also the name of the first sermon in the series, based on Peter's sermon in Acts 2:22-40. The big idea of this series is that while some people are comfortable with confrontation (like good ol' Peter), most of us would feel comfortable sharing our faith in some other way. Fortunately, Scripture shows us five other ways that people shared Christ. Full disclosure: I get this idea from Bill Hybels' book, Becoming a Contagious Christian. I highly recommend the book, but I won't be preaching from it. Instead, we'll look at six stories of people leading friends and neighbors to the Savior in a way that felt totally natural for them. I'll bet at least one of the methods will sound pretty natural to you, too. Pray for us during this series. It all leads up to Faith in Action Day, October 11. God is on the move in our church, making us more and more into a church that loves the world outside our walls.

1 comment:

Rick Lannoye said...

I appreciate what you're trying to say, that if Evangelicals REALLY believed Hell existed, surely they'd be doing all they could, whenever they could, to get others saved.

But they don't, and while social awkwardness may play into it, let me suggest that there's a much larger reason why--because they don't really believe it!

Sure, they believe in Hell to some extent, but not in the "trust in, cling to, rely on" sense, not in the type of believing that leads directly to action. It's not even a mental assent...but a feeling.

In other words, the majority of Evangelicals are only fearful that Hell MIGHT exist. They have that fear ingrained into them, just enough to get their compliance to join a church, donate some money and vote for whomever the preacher hints is "God's choice." But after that, they live just like the rest of us non believers, like there's nothing beyond the grave.

I've actually written an entire book on this topic--"Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," (for anyone interested, you can get a free Ecopy of my book at my website:, but the real question here ought to be, "Is there any real proof that Hell exists?"

I suspect that those who lead the Evangelicals don't really want their followers to examine the doctrine of Hell too deeply. They don't need their sheep to abandon the church pews to spend every waking minute knocking on doors or passing out gospel tracts. No, just enough of the FEAR of Hell to get them in the doors, perhaps with a friend in tow.

The good news, the REAL gospel, is that there is no Hell.

there's substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: "You don't know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!" Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

True, there are a few statements that made their way into the gospels which place Hell on Jesus lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.