As we turn to consider in more detail how we may speak to people of the twentieth century, we must emphasize first of all that we cannot apply mechanical rules. We, of all people, should realize this, for as Christians we believe that personality really does exist and is important. We can lay down some general principles, but there can be no automatic application. If we are truly personal, as created by God, then each individual will differ from everyone else. Therefore each person must be dealt with as an individual, not as a case or statistic or machine. If we would work with these people, we cannot apply the things we have dealt with in this book mechanically. We must look to the Lord in prayer, and to the work of the Holy Spirit, for the effective use of these things.
Furthermore, we must remember that the person to whom we are talking, however far from the Christian faith he may be, is an image-bearer of God. He has great value, and our communication to him must be in genuine love. Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him. Love is a genuine concern for the individual. As Jesus Christ reminds us, we are to love that individual “as ourselves.” This is the place to begin. Therefore, to be engaged in personal “witness” as a duty or because our Christian circle exerts a social pressure on us, is to miss the whole point. The reason we do it is that the person before us is an image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique in the world. This kind of communication is not cheap. To understand and speak to sincere but utterly confused twentieth-century people is costly. It is tiring; it will open you to temptations and pressures. Genuine love, in the last analysis, means a willingness to be entirely exposed to the person to whom we are talking.
-Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, p.130-131 (in The Francis Schaeffer Trilogy).
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