I believe the way that the gospel is presented should differ depending on the people with whom we share it.
This requires sensitivity to the Spirit and attention to the person’s heart. Jesus Christ didn’t present Himself the same way to everyone.
To some, He warned. To others, He rebuked. To some, He showed compassion and mercy. To some, He asked questions or told parables, etc.
Just examine the way He interacted with various people, and you’ll see monumental differences. In a much-overlooked text, Jude describes it like this:
And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. (Jude 22-23 NKJV)
You have the same thing in Paul.
Sometimes, Paul says things like, “It’s the kindness and mercy of God that leads us to repentance.” In other places, he says things like, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”
Viola keeps these things in view when speaking to non Christians about Jesus:
1. Try to listen intently to the person and ask them questions.Listen outwardly.
2. Try to be sensitive to the Spirit while talking to them. Seek to discover what God has already done and is doing in their heart. Listen inwardly.
3. Look for an opportunity to allow the love of Christ to bleed through in their circumstances. Embody the gospel.
4. Never view an individual as a project, but as a person. A fellow human being. No more or less deserving than myself. The attitude is that of one beggar telling another where to find bread.
5. The goal is never to “close the deal.” (As a young believer, I thought that was the name of the game and did some damage as a result.) The goal is to be obedient to the Lord in the moment. The results are with Him. And sometimes, they don’t show up for years. In fact, you may never end up seeing them in this life.
Keep in mind also that one of the greatest testimonies to the world that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed who He claimed to be is when His people love one another visibly (John 17).