I’ve read and enjoyed two previous books by Randy Newman (no, not that Randy Newman) called Questioning Evangelism and Corner Conversations. Randy, on staff at Campus Crusade for Christ since 1980, has just released his third book (which I’m now reading), Bringing the Gospel Home: Witnessing to Family Members, Close Friends, and Others Who You Know Well (Crossway, 2011).
In the chapter “Love: Always Craved and Yet Seldom Conveyed” he writes about the need to truly love people and not just use the appearance of love as a means to evangelize:
We need to love people simply because they are people, fashioned by God in his image; we should not show them love just as a way to evangelize them. Surely, we can find traits, common ground, unique gifts, personality nuances, and experiences we can affirm, and, better still, enjoy. But we must not love them merely as a manipulative prelude to preach at them. They’ll smell such nonlove miles away. Instead, we must ask God to enable us to love them. Period. No strings attached. If they’re waiting for the other shoe to drop — a shoe in the form of a gospel presentation — they won’t feel loved by us because, in fact, they’re not.
Manipulation as a means to the gospel is not evangelism — and risks creating a false convert. And that “common ground” — that’s the “point of contact” Francis Schaeffer advocated, a place where conversation can begin.
More importantly, that love does absolutely need to be genuine. As Albert Mohler said at a Desiring God conference whose topic was Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, we need to love them — the sinner, the unconverted — more than they love their sin.
8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)