With some people, you may establish a relationship in five minutes, whereas with others it may take months. But the principle remains the same. The right to talk intimately to a person about the Lord Jesus Christ has to be earned, and you earn it by convincing him that you are his friend and really care about him. And therefore the indiscriminate buttonholing, the intrusive barging into the privacy of other people’s souls, the thick-skinned insistence on expounding the things of God to reluctant strangers who are longing to get away–these modes of behavior, in which strong personalities have sometimes indulged in the name of personal evangelism, should be written off as a travesty of personal evangelism. Impersonal evangelism would be a better name for them! In fact, rudeness of this sort dishonors God; moreover, it creates resentment, and prejudices people against the Christ whose professed followers act so objectionably. The truth is that real personal evangelism is very costly, just because it demands of us a really personal relationship with the other man. We have to give ourselves in honest friendship to people, if ever our relationship with them is to reach the point at which we are justified in choosing to talk to them about Christ, and can speak to them about their own spiritual needs without being either discourteous or offensive. If you wish to do personal evangelism, then–and I hope you do; you ought to–pray for the gift of friendship (J.I. Packer)
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