Why do we hesitate to share the Gospel with non-believers? I think it’s because we treat the gospel as a cookie rather than a cure.
I asked the Christian students if they would be willing to follow me into the streets of Huntsville to try to convince people that chocolate chip cookies are the best cookies in the world. The school cafeteria at SHU makes excellent chocolate chip cookies, so we could have taken some with us to convince the local populace. Unsurprisingly, none of the students were excited about going. When asked, they quickly admitted that it seemed pointless to try to convince people of something as subjective as a personal opinion about cookies. They recognized that cookie preference is a matter of subjective opinion, rather than objective truth, and none of them were willing to go out of their way to argue for an opinion. I then asked them if they would be willing to follow me into a region of Huntsville that was suffering from a Tuberculosis outbreak to convince those infected with TB to take the one known cure, Isoniazid. All of them found this to be a worthy effort and said they would be willing to help for a cause such as this. They recognized the difference between the cookie and the cure. Cookies are a matter of subjective opinion, but cures are a matter of objective truth. If the people suffering with TB didn’t know about the cure, they would die. Personal opinions about Isoniazid are irrelevant. Some TB sufferers might, for example, prefer to take Ibuprofen. But the objective truth about TB and Isoniazid overshadows any opinion someone might hold about their favorite treatment. Cures are like that. When we are objectively convinced that a particular treatment is the exclusive cure for what is ailing us, we ignore our preferences and act quickly to save ourselves and share the truth with others.
There is a relationship between our categorization of Christian claims and our desire to share them with the world around us. Some of us hesitate to share the Gospel because (whether we care to admit it or not) we’ve come to see religious truth as a matter of subjective opinion rather than objective truth. We treat the Gospel more as a cookie than a cure.
I don’t think I could convince someone who liked oatmeal and raisin cookies that chocolate chip cookies were better. They would just say that they had their preference and I had my preference and there was no reason for them to switch. But I’ll bet that I could convince a person to save for their retirement instead of wasting their money on partying. And I’ll bet that I could convince a person to study computer science in college instead of studying art history. Know why? Because I know about these things, and I could appeal to objective facts to make a case for them. Those facts pack a punch whether or not the person has a preference for what I am recommending or not. And we need to treat Christianity the same way. Move the whole question beyond personal preferences to evidence. That’s how you can be persuasive – on any topic.