I was on my way home from work today and I saw a couple of men hanging out at a busy intersection in town with signs. They were pointing them towards each car as they scooted through traffic as if to say "YOU need to read this!". I only got to read one of the signs and I have not been able to find the exact wording they used (had thees and thous in it) in any translation that I have access to but here it is from the NIV
Deuteronomy 7:10 (New International Version)
10 But those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;
he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.
I wanted to roll my window down and ask the men if they really felt that the message they were pushing was effective. I wanted to tell them that we should be sharing the love of Christ instead of resorting to fear tactics. Have they not heard that you will catch more flies with honey than with vinegar?
Now, I am in NO way saying that this particular verse in the Bible is untrue, unimportant, or not applicable. What I am saying is that this is not the best tactic for trying to plant seeds and bring in the lost. I'm not saying that we should compromise the Word of God to make people more comfortable. What I am saying is that we can't afford to preach condemnation of sin without first showing them God's love. What I am saying is that there is a time and place for conviction and that is the job of the Holy Spirit and not some guy on the side of the road preaching hell fire and brimstone. If we want to reach the lost they have to know that it's ok to come as they are. We must share with them that God loves them no matter what they have done. He doesn't love the sin, but he does love the sinner.
I realize these men had good intentions. I'm sure they really are sincere about wanting to see the lost to be saved and sharing the gospel. But the primary truth of the gospel IS NOT that God wants to punish, the primary truth is that God loves us so much that he sent his only begotten son to die on the cross and suffer for our sins. And I don't know a lost soul that would be drawn to finding out more about a god that someone is seeming to say wants to destroy him. The approach these men employed will only serve to alienate and/or infuriate the lost, resulting in a lost opportunity.
When I'm thinking about the lost souls that drove by there today, unfortunately, I'm picturing them continuing to drive down that road paved with the good intentions of those men trying to share God's word. And they may drive that road all the way to Hell. The saddest part is that they left out the verse preceding the verse they chose to share, and that could have changed the message and the result completely.
Deuteronomy 7:9 (New International Version)
9 Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.