The following article is taken from the NIV Essentials Study Bible by Zondervan Publishers; Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2013.
The title of the article is: How Do Christians Practice Evangelism in a Culture That Frowns on “Proselytizing”?
(1 Co 9:19 – 23)
“Ever since Jesus charged his disciples to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’ (Mt 28:19), Christians have understood that it’s our privilege and responsibility to share the gospel. The early Christians obeyed this charge in a culture that frowned on proselytizing even more than our own culture does. When Peter and John were threatened and commanded by the Jewish authorities to stop preaching, they responded by saying, ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’ (Acts 5:29). Despite the consequences, our commitment today should be no less than theirs was.
The charge to proclaim the gospel in a culture that frowns on doing so requires both courage and sensitivity. Paul modeled both of these qualities when he preached to the Athenians at the Areopagus (see Ac 17:16 – 34). In that sermon, he showed remarkable fluency in Greek literature and religion, communicating the unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that the Athenians could understand and appreciate. At the same time, he didn’t shrink from proclaiming the resurrection – a doctrine that flew in the face of their preconceived ideas and philosophical commitments.
When sharing the gospel, we, like Paul, must be mindful of our culture, yet never shrink away from those eternal truths that may rub people the wrong way. And we must always season our words with acts of compassion so that unbelievers may ‘see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven’ (Mt 5:16).
Paul’s wise counsel to the Colossians sums it up best: ‘Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone’ (Col 4:5 -6).”
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.’ (Matthew 16:24 – 27)