Scripture Reading — 2 Corinthians 5:11-15
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. 2 Corinthians 5:11 —
We were called to help resolve a conflict. A drunken churchgoer had tried to "shorten" our elder with a machete the day after he'd preached about the evils of drinking. When we asked for help from local officials on this matter, they assured us they knew how to persuade this type of attacker. Soon my companion and I were walking up the path with four policemen bearing M-16 assault rifles. Persuasive indeed!
While strong-arm tactics may sometimes aid law enforcement, that's not the method Paul suggests for our witness. He would agree with the definition of persuade as "to move by argument to a belief or position."
But this kind of persuasion is becoming a lost art. Today we often hear, "No one has the right to impose their beliefs on others; instead we must learn to tolerate each other." This is a reasonable idea that comes from living closely with people of many different religions. On your way to the store you might drive past an Islamic mosque, a Buddhist temple, and a Christian church, and then meet a Hindu at the checkout counter. Certainly we must respect others and never use a heavy-handed, "M-16 style" of persuasion. But since we have the good news of Jesus, and we know what it means to fear him, we also ought to try to persuade others to believe he is Lord and King.
Dear Lord, refresh and deepen our experience of your love so that we may be compelled to persuade others of your amazing salvation. For your name's sake, Amen.