Have you ever heard a pastor give a sermon on Ezekiel 33? God tells Ezekiel to cry out against the unfaithful watchmen in Israel who did not warn Israel about impending judgment. He says that because they were silent, the blood of the people who die will be on the heads of the lazy watchmen.
Every time I hear this passage preached, the application is the same: “If you don’t tell people that they are going to hell, when they die, God is going to hold you responsible! Their blood will be on your head! So never miss an opportunity to tell a friend, a coworker, a neighbor, a relative, or even a stranger on the bus about Jesus!”
I heard this passage preached just last week with this exact application.
I have always been uncomfortable with preaching this passage this way, but only last week did I understand why. First, the passage has nothing to do with eternal destinies, but only with temporal judgment on sinful Israel. So from that perspective alone, the “bloody head evangelism” application is illegitimate.
But more than that, as I listened to this pastor preach, it hit me that all he was really endorsing was “hit and run evangelism.” He was basically saying that as long as a Christian got something out about sin, hell, and believing in Jesus for eternal life, their duty to warn others was fulfilled. They were no longer responsible for that person. The pastor’s exact words were “Their blood will be on their own heads rather than on yours!”
Aside from being a terrible application of this passage, such an approach to evangelism is simply scary, and probably does more damage than good. It gives a Christian the sense that as long as they get the gospel off their chest to anyone and everyone they come into contact with, they are no longer responsible for that person. Once the other person “hears the good news” they are solely responsible for what they do with it.
With such a perspective, it is not necessary for any Christian to befriend or develop relationships with other people. It diminishes evangelism down to a simple proclamation of a few Bible facts. Under the guise of “caring for people’s eternal destinies” it reveals a heart that really doesn’t care about the person.
This is not what evangelism is or how it should be done. Over the next couple of posts, I will suggest some better options.