We live in a very direct culture. Mericans, tend to be a pretty forward bunch on the global scene and if someone is talking loud on the underground in London, it is probably a Merican.
As I was listening to Ravi Zacharias this morning on a podcast referring to the art of subtlety in our witness, it struck me as a pretty counter-cultural suggestion. Not only do I think it is counter-cultural, but I think some elements of routine theology come to bear on our subtlety.
Ravi used the example of the rich young ruler who came to Jesus and asked him, “Good teacher, what my I do to inherit eternal life?” And rather than go for the scalp, and put another notch on his salvation belt, Jesus replied, “why do you call me good?”
Most of us, could not command that kind of subtlety for a variety of reasons. First and foremost some of us have a theology that puts the results of salvation up to us. How impassioned, how direct, how bold we are could spell eternal condemnation for the person asking us “why would God cause that kid in the news to die?” And so we feel the weight of their eternity on our shoulders! But I find freedom in the knowledge that God is saving a people for himself. I can proclaim the truth, with boldness AND subtlety, and any shade of mix between the two, because I know that salvation belongs to The Lord.
Secondly, I think we lack subtlety because we are full of ourselves. We want to have all the answers, we want to be the solution to the problems of others. We want to have the right answers. And not all of this comes from a horrible place. For the follower of Jesus who has been transformed by his grace and forgiveness, we should WANT to convey that to others. But we should also in humility, be willing to give room to process faith in time.
Event the disciples who stood in the empty tomb, took a while to come to believe that the resurrection was indeed the cause of that vacancy. God gave them room to figure some things out.
Occasionally, there is a time to go for the gospel in strength and vigor. But is there room for subtlety in your witness for Jesus? If we think we have to be aggressive to be an evangelist, then many will find little room for their more tame nature at the table of spiritual discussion. But I am convinced that if we look at our own personality and consider the opportunities God is giving us in relationship to unbelievers around us, we will find that subtlety and boldness can both be leveraged for the cause of Christ.