“Breathe, Regina,” my mother coaxed in even tones, willing my sister’s tiny body to work the way it was supposed to.
Shoulders high, eyes wide, Regina strained to obey, fighting tears of panic, her mouth a tiny O sucking air.
Watching from across the room, I inhaled for her and held it. It didn’t help.
“You have to breathe,” my mother repeated, kneeling in front of her five-year-old, the crack in her voice belying her intentional calm as we waited for help to arrive.
Unforgettable and traumatizing, it was only the first of many such asthma attacks my sister would experience over the next decade or more, the beginning of a new, albeit temporary, way of life for her, one that involved medicine, a lot of medicine.
Half the size of her scrawny little throat, the capsules prescribed by Regina’s pulmonologist were intimidating to look at and, apparently, impossible for her to swallow, so my mother came up with a plan. Every morning after breakfast, she broke one of the giant capsules over a heaping spoonful of grape jelly and mixed the granules that fell out down into the sugary blob.
Thankfully, Regina didn’t think so and swallowed every spoonful of gritty-grape goop my mother gave her without thought or hesitation.
It’s not always easy to get people to swallow what’s good for them. Maybe that’s why so many well intentioned, grounded Christians who truly want to see people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ have taken to drowning sound biblical doctrine in goop—sugar-sweet words that smack of humanism, but go down easy—until the Gospel is barely discernible, if present at all.
I’m sure these brothers and sisters of mine mean well, but their methods are flawed and, in the end, counterproductive and dangerous.
You see, the Gospel is “God’s power of salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16). To cover it up or leave part of it out just because you don’t think the person you are talking to will like the taste or texture of God’s absolute truth is to deny them the spiritual healing they so desperately need.
When it comes to proclaiming Truth, don’t sugarcoat or edit it, but present it whole with clarity, compassion, and patience, the good about God, the bad about the Enemy, and the ugly about sin.
Sure, it can be uncomfortable to talk about such things, especially when your audience is already under the conviction of the Holy Spirit or feels attacked by other Christians with less tact than you possess, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary. You see, “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Want to love people well? Focus on their eternal needs and quit telling them they’re okay if they’re not. Preach the Word unabridged. Remember, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).
Let’s stop wooing sinners and start winning souls.