The Old Bait and Switch

I had an experience recently that put me on an unfamiliar side of a bait and switch.  I was doing some shopping in the men’s clothing section of a local department store.  This particular store is the nicest in our area.  Of course, I was looking for good sales!  As I cruised the clothing racks, a sharp dressed man approached me and asked if I knew of any good restaurants locally for business lunches.  He said he was new to the area.  I said yes and rattled off my suggestions.  He engaged me in some conversation and then he said, “Would you like to make some extra money?  I have a business opportunity and you might be the kind of person I am looking for.”

In that moment I realized what was happening.  This guy was fishing the men’s department and using the “do you know any restaurants” line to get to what he really wanted.  I felt deceived and manipulated.  I didn’t like it at all.  It was then that I realized I was on the other side of a bait and switch. 

How often Christians approach evangelism like that guy in the department store.  We use some little gimmick or talking point that the other person realizes is merely a theological pickup line.  How different is the example of Jesus and Paul.  I am unaware of any gimmick that Jesus ever used.  He was the truth incarnated.  There was nothing deceptive about him and his earnestness spoke directly to the hearts of people.  Similarly, the Apostle Paul had sharp words against duplicit approaches to ministry, But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways.  We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.  2 Corinthians 4:2 (ESV)

May God create in us such a confidence in the gospel that we don’t feel the need to be anything but forthright, truthful, and confident in Christ.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2009 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction.

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6 comments

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  1. Jeanie Simpson

    Thank you for that perspective. I had a conversation just yesterday with my daughter about a local church body who uses uncomfortable approaches, which we have been aware of for many years. This is a good reminder of how Jesus was always completely forthright and is our ultimate example. No one likes to be deceived as you were at the store and what a dichotomy it would be to use deceptive methods to share God’s message.

  2. Chris Johnson

    The whole of Christianity is a bait and switch, based on the authority of Judaism, then switched to Christianity. Paul, in Gal 3, states that without the grace of Christ, we are all “cursed”, as per Deut 27,28. Yet, when we are saved by Christ, we expect none of these physical blessings throughout Deut, (also Deut 28:3), because, by then, the switch has occurred, and the reward is all in the afterlife. In Matt 22:23, the Sadducees, who “did not believe in the resurrection”, came to Jesus to ask him a commonsense question about the impossibility of this afterlife. Jesus then evades this, and does another switch, telling him that he errs in his knowledge of the scriptures, and that they will be as angels. There is nothing in “scripture” about any of this, which is why the Sadducee does not believe in it. In Matt 5, the Sermon on the Mount, Christians widely believe most of it to be hyperbole, or perhaps a high ideal, or perhaps an encoded message of rebellion against the Romans. In any case, I’ve never seen a Christian praying in secret, or ignoring his friends – to love his enemies. Why would Christ insert these impossible ideals, if we can be saved so easily? It’s just another bait and switch.

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