In the opening chapter of his book, Honest Evangelism, Rico Tice discusses two themes, hostility and hunger. On hostility he writes:
There may not be persecution, but we’re in a culture of growing hostility to Christianity. It’s not just apathy we face—it’s antipathy.
So if you are going to talk to people about Jesus, you are going to get hurt…not every time…but we will face rejection enough of the time to give us second thoughts, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly like getting hurt. We’re wired to assume that if we’re getting hit, something’s gone wrong. And so whenever I tell someone the gospel message, and get hit (metaphorically speaking), there’s a temptation either to stop saying anything, or to change what I’m saying. I know there’s a painline that needs to be crossed if I tell someone the gospel; but I want to stay on the comfortable side of the painline. (pgs. 14-15)
Although we face (growing?) hostility, Tice says that’s only “half of the story,” there is also hunger. He explains:
But something else is going on, too. There is also increased hunger. The same rising tide of secularism and materialism that rejects truth claims and is offended by absolute moral standards is proving to be an empty and hollow way to live.
And that means that, excitingly, you’re more and more likely to find people quietly hungering for the content of the gospel, even as our culture teaches them to be hostile towards it. (pg. 20)
Until you cross the painline, you don’t know what response you will meet with.
We must be honest about hostility, or we’ll have wrong expectations and give up on evangelism. But we must also be excited about hunger, or we’ll have no expectations at all, and never start evangelism.
You have to risk the hostility to discover the hunger. (pgs. 22-23)
In chapter 2, Rico discusses why it is worth the risk. If you are interested in reading the book, it will be available on our book table Sunday.