For many, the subject of mathematics is difficult enough. When to divide, what to multiply by, and worse yet, what symbol equals what mystery value are all part of the “exciting details” that drive some students crazy and others to the brink of nearly uncontrollable joy. What if your teacher decided to begin explaining a new concept in the middle, meaning he/she didn’t teach you the skills needed in the beginning? Would that frustrate you? Of course it would! If you are going to be able to comprehend the new concept, your teacher needed to have started at the beginning.
When it comes to the topic of spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ and encouraging people to be converted out of darkness and into light, it is significant that this same principle can be seen. In Acts chapter 2, the apostles began preaching to the crowd about Jesus the Christ. Quoting Old Testament passages, Peter and the others understood the background of those they were teaching. They accepted the existence of God and the Scriptures held credibility in their eyes.
As a contrast, in Acts chapter 17 we read of Paul in Athens, Greece. Understanding his audience to be religious, yet without a proper understanding of the only God, Paul began his teaching at a completely different place than the apostles in Acts 2 when he said, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” (v. 17; ESV) He could have begun with the Good News of Jesus Christ; however, they were not ready to hear it at this point. There was a great need to start teaching them at the very beginning with the existence and uniqueness of God.
In our efforts to bring people to Jesus so He will convert them, we must keep in mind that there is no “one-stop” kit that will work in every situation. You and I must take the time to understand where our friends and family are beginning when it comes to their concepts of God, Jesus, and salvation. Understanding this background will definitely help us in being more effective in the area of evangelism. Slow down, listen, and then begin where they are to take them to where they need to be.