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On Being Winsomely Offensive

April 10, 2016

On Being Winsomely Offensive

Psalm 119:41-48 (Vav)

  • Introduction: How ARE Christians “different” than unbelievers? How OUGHT they be?
  • The Angry Physician example: Lesson; demands-or-doom; 5-minute fix; or the single prescription.
  • The Gospel as Offense (Compare: Gospel as Folly, 1 Corinthians 1:18):
    • Rock (1 Peter 2:7-8); Persecution (2 Timothy 3:12); No More Circumcision (Galatians 5:11).
    • [How] Can we tell why we are found by another to be offensive?
  • Worldly winning with winsomeness: cheerful, pleasant, and appealing.
    • Wordly wisdom includes winsomeness:
    • Old Testament examples: Ecclesiastes 7:1-6; Deuteronomy 4:6
    • New Testament examples:
      • The 2 Corinthians Metaphors:
        • Triumph: 2 Corinthians 2:14
        • Fragrance: 2 Corinthians 2:14-16
        • Email: 2 Corinthians 3:1-3
        • Pottery: 2 Corinthians 4:7-18
      • Mind of Christ (John MacDuff, 1870 (1)): Romans 12:1-2
      • Wisdom from Above: James 3:13-18
      • Reflective: Colossians 4:2-6
  • Psalm 119:41-48 (Vav)
    • Prayer that my life and words reflect God’s love and salvation (vv. 41-42)
    • Prayer that I understand the width of God’s gift of liberty (vv. 43-45)
    • May the joy of my salvation overflow, even the presence of kings (vv. 46-47)
    • May the joy of my salvation overflow in praise and meditation (v. 48)
  • Conclusion: Perfume, Imperfections and Prayer


Being winsomely offensive: some observations from Jerram Barr, The Heart of Evangelism (Crossway, 2005):

    • Show respect. “So often as Christians we behave as if we everything to give to the non-Christian and nothing to receive.” (199)
    • Listen. “Every human being is religious in the sense that he or she puts his or her trust in something…The challenge for us is to find out where the person’s trust lies.” (208)
    • Care to Learn and Learn to Care. “…caricaturing or misrepresenting the ideas of unbelievers will be no help to us. It will simply alienate people, for they will rightly be offended by our failure to treat their beliefs seriously.” (212)
    • Avoid Churchspeak. “The New Testament challenges us to express God’s unchanging truth in language of our time rather than in the language of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries or even of the early part of the twentieth century.” (242)
    • Reason Reasonably. “If we reflect on this thoughtful use of language by the apostles, it is evident that they were building a carefully reasoned presentation of the truth to their hearers.” (245)
    • Proclaim, Parse and Apply … Personally. “…accommodating ourselves to our hearers is precisely what all faithful communication of the Gospel must be, for the Gospel itself – God becoming flesh for us – is the greatest imaginable accommodation to those who need to be saved!” (261) “…the task is always the same, to give a wise word that will assist the understanding of non-Christians.” (265)
    • Prompt. “…the Gospel will always be experienced as a challenge…It will challenge our heart, for our hearts are devoted to many masters in place of the one true Lord. Any faithful communication of the Gospel must come with this challenge. In fact, it is appropriate to assert that if there is no challenge, there is no genuine presentation of the Gospel.” (267-268)

        Conversational tools for digging deeper (Judson Poling, Leadership Journal, Fall 2002, pp. 85-86):

– “That’s an interesting question. What do you think?”

– “What situation in your life makes you wonder about that?”

– “Even though you don’t know, if you had to guess, how would you answer?”

– “Is there any answer that you won’t accept? Why?”

– “What has led you to conclude that?”

– “What information do you think would cause you to change your mind?”

– “What’s the strongest argument for those who disagree with you?”

– “If everyone held that view, what would society look like?”

– “If you found out you were wrong, what would be at risk? How would your life change?”

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