Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Old "Bait and Switch"

I have been told time and time again that it is wrong and unloving to befriend someone with the ulterior motive of bringing them to Christ. So let me get this straight: it is unloving to care about someone's eternal salvation and well-being?

Admittedly, some of our "bait and switch" tactics are a little problematic. Too many times we view people as another number on the headboards of our baptismal records.

But imagine the paralytic's surprise when his four buddies brought him to Jesus to be healed, and Christ replied, "Son, your sins are forgiven you." He could have easily protested, "Wait a minute: I came here to be able to walk again, and instead You talk to me about eternal life!" The man didn't cry "foul" though, and it reminds me that Jesus always had "ulterior motives" when it came to issues of healing, justice, and societal reform.

After all, what could be more loving than to tell someone about the Father's heart of love?


Dingo said...

It's a puzzle. I guess I wouldn't want someone to pretend to be a friend just to get me to church and into the baptismal waters. That seems to be what people perceive with the old bait and switch.

But I would want someone who chooses to befriend me to have my deepest well-being at heart. Maybe we, as Christians need to imitate Jesus in "mingling with men as one who desired their good." Really wanting to befriend people with genuine friendship, while at the same time, being willing to be the Lord's ambassador in introducing them to the unltimate Friend.

mhb said...

I think the real test is when the person says, "No thanks, I'm really not interested in Christianity and church." Can the friendship continue? Is there still an interest in that person? If the only basis for the friendship is a one-sided desire baptism, it won't last long and perhaps does more harm than good.

Shawn Brace said...

There is a lot of wisdom in what you are saying, Dingo. I especially like your second comment. I think the criteria you have set up - that we remain friends with a person even if they say "No thanks" to baptism - is a good indicator of what our motivation is in friendship.

Thank you for your thoughts!