Don’t bother reading this piece if you’re not interested in helping other people come to faith. I know God is keenly interested in this matter, so I’ve asked Him to guide me in what I say here and keep me straight. Over many years I’ve become convinced that the main reason we (followers of Jesus) aren’t engaging more non-believers with the gospel and introducing them to the Jesus of the Bible is that we don’t intentionally interact with them at a level that makes this possible. We are bubble dwellers. We don’t seek out non-Christians nor do we effort very strongly to draw them in toward us. I’m in that club too but trying to pop the bubble.
The path to faith for any unbeliever has a great deal of mystery in it. Most of us have seen transformations in people we never expected would move forward in faith. We have also seen really nice, really caring, really “good” people (by the world’s standards) strongly resist the call of the Spirit to draw them near to God. Apart from the frustration we may feel for those who seem so near but remain so far from Jesus and salvation, this distance can and should affect our hearts.
Jesus tells an interesting parable in Mark 4:26-27 saying, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” As “kingdom farmers,” we cannot create life. We can’t predict why some of our friends will choose for Jesus and others won’t. We don’t know how to change hearts. Only God knows. This, in a sense, takes the monkey off our back, except for the fact that God invites us and in a sense commands us to partner with Him in this mysterious restoration process. (See 2 Cor. 5:18-20) Please stop and read this passage.
Remember how the above parable ends? All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, all the way to the full kernel. Stages of growth are also evident in people spiritually, and we must seek and learn to love our non-Christian friends wisely and sensitively, adjusting to where they are in their growth continuum. Too often we fail to discern this spiritual continuum. If our sole perception of this friend or neighbor is a Christian (“accept”) or a non-Christian (“disregard”), we can demonstrate a dismissive or rejecting attitude. We forget that we all started off as rebels and though God was not delighted with this state of being, He was committed to our rescue and fullness of life. God will never disregard us, but does regard us by His pursuit of us until our last breath.
I want to get into this a bit deeper but because of space will continue the discussion next week. In many ways the path to faith is organic and dependent upon relationships. Jesus certainly modeled that for us, as did His first followers and the generations following them. It is “life on life,” with someone caring enough to share how and where they found the bread of life. This is the commonality of the faith exchange which Jesus began and entreats us to model . . .relationships. Certainly we need to re-kindle our spiritual “fire” with those of like mind and Spirit, but to truly live passionately for Christ we must join Him as ambassadors in the great adventure of revealing the beauty of Jesus to those who live apart from Him. It is an adventure indeed, but not as scary as you may fear. Christ is with us in Spirit and will do the heavy lifting. Jesus will open the door. Jesus asks us to knock. Think About It.