In certain circles of the church to be “seeker sensitive” is seen as most wonderful. Whereas amongst others it is a sign of a church turning from the faith. So we ask the question should we be “seeker sensitive”? In a sense the answer to that question depends upon what is meant by “seeker sensitive”.
Right Seeker Sensitivity Let us consider initially who a seeker is. We are talking about someone who is seeking God; someone who is seeking to know the LORD. It is a good thing to have a heart that seeks God. Isaiah says Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near (Is. 55:6). Seeing that it is a good thing to seek the LORD we as Christians should be thoughtful and sensitive as to how we can help seekers find the LORD.
Accordingly, we should be willing to do what we can to help people know and understand the gospel. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. As an example of the sensitivity we might have in approaching people, we can think of Hudson Taylor who when he went as a missionary to China in the nineteenth century adopted a Chinese way of dressing. This meant that he was less of an alien to the people and had more possibility of reaching them for Christ.
We must notice that in 1 Corinthians 9:23 Paul says that he is doing all this for the sake of the gospel. If we look in Galatians 1:6-9 we see that Paul had absolutely no sympathy with anyone or any being that would take away from the gospel; he simply would not budge on the truth of the gospel. He says But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let be under God’s curse! (Gal. 1:8) However, he was determined to remove as many barriers as possible so that people could come and find Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour in the gospel.
Wrong Seeker Sensitivity In the approach of Paul we can see true “seeker sensitivity” in operation. We are doing absolutely no favours to anyone when our seeking to be sensitive to seekers leads us to compromising the gospel. In fact here is where seeker sensitivity goes completely awry when we allow our sensitivity to undermine the gospel. An example would be as regards the exclusive claims of Christ. Our Saviour said “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). When we start to think that it would be easier for people to find Christ if we said that he was only one among many Saviours then we have denied the gospel. In such a scenario our seeker sensitivity has become an outrage.
The first causality of this kind of “seeker sensitivity” is the gospel. And when we start to chip away at the gospel we end up with no gospel and thereby Christianity become meaningless nothingness. Therefore this kind of “seeker sensitivity” becomes very dangerous.
Illustrations Two related incidents in the ministry of Paul exemplify what “seeker sensitivity” meant to him. In Acts 16:1-3 we read Paul came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was Jewish and a believer but whose father was a Greek. The believers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Paul was willing to circumcise Timothy so as not too unnecessarily offend the Jews in the vicinity of Lystra and Iconium.
However when it came to Titus Paul took a completely different approach. Paul was visiting the church leaders in Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. In Galatians 2:3-5 we read Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. Paul would not have Titus circumcised because to do so would be to indicate that to be a true Christian you not only had to believe, but also circumcised. Such would be a complete denial of the gospel. Paul was determined that the truth of the gospel would be preserved.
The differences in the approach of Paul in dealing with Timothy and Titus are revealingly helpful to us. Paul circumcised Timothy in order to remove a barrier for Jewish seekers whilst not compromising the gospel at all. Whereas Titus was not circumcised because to have done so would have compromised a true understanding of the gospel.
This gives us helpful guidance. Above everything we should never compromise the gospel message. But whilst doing so we should go as far as we can to remove any barriers which prevent anyone coming to embrace the gospel. This means we have to be careful about how we conduct our evangelism. First we must be faithful to the gospel and then we can be seeker sensitive.
Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of March 2011