People today don’t need Jesus

People today don’t need Jesus. Or at least they think they don’t. We ponder how we can possibly reach “good” people with the gospel which illuminates their “not so goodness” and need for assistance. For the ones who are content with life – they have health, reasonable wealth, satisfying relationships, and no present challenges – their sense of contentment can be hard to break through. So how can we, how do we find a way for them to give Jesus an audience? One of the problems we create for ourselves is that in attempting to plan how to reach and evangelize outsiders, we do it with a roomful of Christians and fail to include outsiders to gain perspective as to where they are coming from. We often don’t realize just how out of touch we are.
In the post-modern challenge, we need to understand where we are powerless. We do not create life. It is impossible for us to determine why some of our friends will receive Jesus and others won’t. That should be liberating us from the modern temptation to view conversion as a mostly psychological phenomenon, an event that can be controlled and manipulated if we say the words right, dim the lights just so, pray relentlessly and sing on key. If it were so, we’d be under a lot of pressure. The path to faith is both mysterious and unique. Tailor made.
If our most sophisticated understanding of the path to faith says that our neighbor is either a Christian (on) or not a Christian (off), then we tend to have an unsophisticated response to them. Whether we realize it or not, the path to faith is a continuum, not an on or off. And still, those who “appear” to be closer to an “off” or seem disinterested need not be viewed as our enemy because we truly don’t know what God has been accomplishing in them.
In my reading and observations (experience), there are 5 potential thresholds post-moderns cross as they progress towards becoming Jesus followers. 1. Our friends move from distrust to trust (hopefully in us). 2. They move from complacent to curious. Remember, most people don’t make this transition overnight. And also, it’s important to know that just because someone’s curiosity grows strong, this does not mean that they are open to actual change in their life. 3. They move from being closed to change to being open to change. 4. They move from meandering to seeking. 5. They cross the threshold of the kingdom.
“Lostness” looks different depending on your perspective and personality. “Lost” may be an accurate description of non-Christian friends from our perspective, but it may not feel like “lostness” to them. And trust me in this, being called “lost” does not come across as an endearing description to those yet to follow Christ.
Some practical ways we can attempt to build trust are to pray for these friends and learn to understand their perspective. Become a good listener. Bond with them socially. Have I ever called them for help in anything? Do we ever just have fun together? Affirm them. Do I credit them for their goodness, character, and accomplishments? Or do I judge? Remember Paul as he addressed the Athenians? He found the good and affirmed it. Look for the good in people.
There are many agendas we may want to press with our friends, many urges for apologetics and many issues we think we should move to address. To be a patient missionary or a bold prophet, that is the question. Balance, Grasshopper! Instead, we are at our best if we can build interest for Jesus. Be patient as the journey unfolds. People need to try on change. The process of suspending disbelief and daring to try what it could be like to believe what Jesus says sometimes takes time. And we need to be patient with that. Think About It.