The Gospel is offensive, and there are those who will not humble themselves and receive salvation because they want to do their own salvation. It is a matter of pride. But some people haven't even gotten to the Gospel, and yet are offended. We mistake their being offended for being offended at the Gospel when they really are offended at us! Then we write them off as having a hardened heart.
But here's the thing about the check-mate factor that we need to consider. Sometimes, people are struggling with sin and really would like to not be struggling with sin. Yes, we all love to sin and we all try to hide from God. Some people are afraid of us, because they simply think that we are going to judge them and pronounce their judgment if they admit their sin to us. Instead of receiving an answer for their sin, they receive a pronouncement of judgment for their sin from us.
Some of the people we would talk to have had bad experiences with professing Christians. Some professing Christians are not clear on how to articulate the Gospel message, nor are they clear on the subject of grace and forgiveness, let alone the whole issue of sin.
Let's say a woman had an abortion and now feels guilty. She hears the voice of someone who is telling her about God's judgment to come. What will she hear next? Will the person tell her she is going to hell because she had an abortion? Will that make her open up to the person who is sharing the Gospel?
"I'm damned if I talk to you and I'm damned if I don't". Some of these people put on masks to defend themselves against the evangelist. But really, if we could get them to open up to us, we could have a good conversation with them and perhaps they would be at the place where they would be ready to repent.
I have to give credit to one man who does evangelism very well, and people end up feeling comfortable talking to him. This man will spend whatever time he needs to in order to reach people with the Gospel message. I watched a video where he was at a Gay Pride parade, and one of the conversations lasted about an hour and a half! You could actually see the people involved in that conversation begin to open up toward the end of the conversation. This man is Mark Cahill, and he is in no hurry to try to give out as many tracts as possible, or talk to as many people as possible. He is an excellent example of how evangelism should be done. He spends one to one quality time with people and makes them feel respectable. He takes the time needed to listen and show compassion.
I will close with another one of his examples. He was at the beach and talking to people about the Gospel, when one guy was really angry. Mark took the time to draw him out about why he was angry with the church. While they were talking, the man opened up and said that his sister went to a church in a particular area and after an evening service, she was raped by someone who was part of that church. The man had a hard time working through it. Mark was able to help.
Many of us would just tell the man to repent. We would tell him he needs to stop sinning and trust in Jesus. We would write him off when we see his anger toward the church. But really, shouldn't we take the time to draw people out and ask them questions that will help them look at their own hearts? Do we think we are in a different category than other people, and that it is ok for us to look down on unsaved people because they are sinning? How would we feel if someone were talking down to us? Shouldn't we try to give them a rope instead, so that they could be rescued from the hold of sin on their lives?
Jesus came to set the prisoner free, not to remind
the prisoner that he is in prison and keep him there.