With Gentleness and Respect
June 1, 2003 - Each of the past three years, I have been invited to speak at the Good Friday services at the Pentagon. It is always humbling to be there—especially this year, when we have witnessed the courage and sacrifice of those who defend our freedom. This year, that freedom was challenged on the home front.
by Franklin Graham
A handful of people tried to convince the Pentagon to withdraw my invitation because they are offended by what I stand for as a Christian. They don't want to hear Jesus' solemn words: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV).
At the Pentagon on Good Friday, the room was packed as together we worshipped our Redeemer and Lord.
I'm not going to let the words of detractors stand in the way of offering people help and hope according to Jesus' example and instructions. The Good Samaritan wasn't especially popular with some crowds, but he did the right thing.
At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and at Samaritan's Purse, we have worked around the world. We know that preaching is only one form of evangelism, and we know when to exercise it. And though we have been blessed to see hundreds of thousands respond to the Gospel, we know better than to coerce anyone to become a Christian. Indeed, we could not do it if we tried. Jesus said, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:44, NIV). Salvation is the work of the Father, the Son and the Spirit.
Our mission is to present the Gospel clearly, compassionately and uncompromised, so that those who have never known the love of Jesus Christ will have an opportunity to respond to Him.
The Apostle Peter wrote: "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV).
We should always be prepared to respectfully share our faith and hope with those who are curious, envious or even hostile. God may be drawing them to Himself.