As Christians struggle to reach out to others with the Gospel of Christ, one of the first thoughts often considered is, “To whom will I talk?” As that list of individuals is mulled in the mind of the Servant, oftentimes the question of whether or not an individual is good enough to receive the Gospel enters the thoughts. There are some congregations that have placed criteria on who is a good candidate for the Gospel, but the criterion is based in physical things: their job, their status in the community, their influence, their ability for financial contribution, etcetera. Therefore, there are many to whom the Gospel is never delivered because they are “not good enough” for it. Who deserves the opportunity to receive the Gospel? A consideration of the Scriptures sheds a great deal of light on this question.
The poor. There are times when an individual’s worthiness to receive the Gospel is determined by his bank account. Such should not be the case. In the Scriptures there are many examples of the poor being the most willing hearers of God’s Word. InSmyrna, a city of great wealth in the first century, the church was made up of those who were among the poor (Rev. 2:9). They were considered to be in poverty physically, but they were rich spiritually. One’s physical resources have nothing to do with their fitness or interest in receiving the Gospel. In fact, James said that to show favoritism based upon appearance of physical wealth is a sinful respecting of persons (Jam. 2:1-9). Certainly the poor are those that need, and deserve to receive, the Gospel.
The criminal. Some people cringe at the thought of the precious Gospel being placed in the hands of those that, to their minds, least deserve it. But a cursory glance at the Scriptures portrays a very different focus. Paul was one who had put innocent people in prison, and even to death, under the auspices of serving God (Gal.1:13; 1 Tim.1:13). The Old Testament gives many examples of those who would be servants of God doing those things that were criminal in nature, and yet while dealing with the consequences of those actions they turned to God and devoted their lives to him. Oftentimes, those in prisons or with criminal backgrounds are fertile fields for the Gospel because they recognize where the other focuses of life lead. There is no doubt the Gospel is intended for those who have violated the law just as much as for the upright citizen.
The different. It is somewhat natural when considering with whom to share the Gospel that man settles on someone like himself; someone with similar characteristics, family traits, and so on. But the Gospel is not intended to be used only for one small contingent of people; its principles, commands, and guidelines are needed and necessary in every person’s life (Gal.3:26-28; Col. 3:11). Thus we must ensure that we spread the Gospel beyond those “just like us.” It means teaching God’s word to those of a different race, a different social status, a different background, a different lifestyle, a different personality, and yes, even a different favorite sports team. The Gospel must be spread to those who are different from us.
We have a great responsibility to seek and save the lost through the Gospel of Christ. However, when we begin deciding who is “good enough” to receive the Gospel, we have sinned and we have failed in that responsibility. May Christians always seek out those who will hear, not those who already fit that box of the ideal candidate for Christianity.