At Halloween, children are often told to never to accept fruit in their bags. The usual reason for this is the story about razor blades being concealed in the food. These fears are almost, but not entirely, groundless because it is extremely unusual (you're more likely to be struck by lightning unusual) and when it actually occurs, the harm is pretty minimal (stitches are likely your worse case scenario). If you do a search for "razor blades apples urban legend
" you can find the research on the subject.
However, the story is evocative of a fairly horrible image of biting into such an apple. The reason I bring it up is that I think the Christian church does itself no favors by attempting to do the same thing.
Another word picture, what if you bought a foam toy sword for your child to play with. Your child played with it for awhile and one day hits someone with it and causes a long wound on another child's arm. You take the toy and look and find that a really sharp rapier is actually concealed within the foam. What would you do? Well, if a manufacturer really sold such a thing you'd sue them into oblivion. You'd probably sue the store, the safety inspectors, and everyone else. You'd probably expect criminal charges to be brought up. It would be all over the news and it would be completely outrageous.
In my opinion, this is exactly what many Christians try to do with their message. They try to soften the blow of the message by giving out the beneficial parts and trying not to mention the less positive aspects. It's not that these folks aren't Christians (though some certainly aren't) or want to conceal the message. Mostly they want to draw the unbelievers in and make sure they know we care before giving them the bad news: Christianity won't solve all your problems, make you happier, help you make friends, or julienne your fries. Christianity doesn't mean much of anything except helping you understand who you are, what you were made for, and giving you confidence that life after death will be worth it.
The bad news is that if you don't "take our pill," you go to Hell. Forever. That's a pretty sharp injury if you're not expecting it. Furthermore, it's dishonest enough that a person that doesn't really tests out the product might never find the real sword inside, which is tantamount to never sharing the real product with them in the first place. They go to Hell anyway because they never really found out what they bought. Okay. Enough metaphor.
Christians ought to be honest and tell the whole truth. Christians ought to believe what they preach: God is in control. If God is sovereign, we don't need to be too afraid of hurting someone's feelings. I don't meant his to indicate that we beat people over the head or go around without being cautious or relevant with how we deliver our message. What I'm saying is that if we get hung up and steering clear of offending people with an essentially offensive message, we're being dishonest. We are being hypocrites. We're saying that our message isn't important or believable enough to tell it straight and deal with the consequences. We'd rather meander around the message and hope somebody asks us for enough details that we feel safe telling them the rest.
As for me, I hope that I'm remembered as being someone who told it straight. I usually don't feel that bold (except for right here in this blog on occasion) and I usually feel guilty for not being forthcoming enough (of course, I also feel guilty if I talk too much, but that's my own insecurity). Yet, it is my goal to try and be courageous enough to tell people the whole truth. I don't want to beat people with it, but I don't want to embellish or hide anything. I pray that God will convict more Christians to do the same.