Fourth, stress the Good News. Show that the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers comfort. I am sure you realize that this does not mean we are totally to overlook sin. Jesus did not do that. He brought the woman to the point of recognizing her sin by His reference to the issue of her husbands. Nevertheless, even as He gently uncovered the sin, he offered comfort; for He coupled His inquiry into her marital status with the invitation to come again to Him.
Unfortunately, it’s true that we often do exactly the opposite in witnessing to non-Christians. The comfort of the Gospel is there, but we forget the comfort in our zeal to expose (and, I’m afraid, often condemn) the sin. For instance, imagine a situation in which a non-Christian offers a Christian a drink at a party. Aren’t there thousands of Christians who would immediately reply, “No, thank you. I don’t drink. I’m a Christian”? Then they think they have offered a splendid witness to Jesus Christ, when actually they have only succeeded in condemning the non-Christian. At the same time, they would give him the wrong idea that non-drinking is somehow a very important part of Christianity. Now, non-drinking may be an important part of their Christian life. But the point I am making is that the statement, “I don’t drink. I’m a Christian” is no more intelligible to the non-Christian than it would be for him to say when you ask him to go to a football game, ”No thanks, I don’t go to football games. I’m a non-Christian.”
You see, there are two real dangers in all of this. The first is the danger that in getting our witness tangled up in such issues, we miss the fact that our friend may be quite desperately lonely—perhaps that’s why he drinks—and we never suggest a cure for his loneliness. Or we may miss his feeling of guilt, sorrow, meaninglessness, or whatever it may be.
The second danger is that in focusing on some aspect of the nonbeliever’s conduct, we may actually give the impression that he must somehow improve himself before he can come to Jesus. That is quite wrong. We never want to give the impression that when we come to Jesus we can do as we please, that we can sin that grace might abound. That also would be untrue. But neither do we want to suggest that there must be self-reformation before a man or a woman can come.