A few weeks ago I received a call from a very determined salesperson. Every time I would tell her that I was not interested in what she had to sell me, she would come up with another reason why I should accept her generous offer. After a tug of war that was starting to last way too long for my liking, my patience was wearing thin and I finally had to raise my voice and stop the conversation with, “No thank you and please don’t call me again!”
How many of you have had someone share their faith with you in the same kind of manner….with unrelenting forcefulness and zeal? It’s not particularly fun to be on the receiving end of a Bible beating! I’m sure many of you know what I am talking about. Well, here’s a news flash for all of us to read soberly – JESUS NEVER CHASED ANYONE! That’s right! When He shared the Word of God and its truths with people, He never chased them down, beat them on the head with the scrolls, hog-tied them, or set them under bright lights in an interrogation room in order to convince them that they should think His way. And yes, so many zealous Christians, with good intentions of course, almost go to such ridiculous lengths in order to make converts out of the lost.
There is a very simple message in the Bible and Jesus explained it quite well with black and white flavor, and without much fanfare. You can choose life or you can choose death. You can live a life full of blessings and live eternally with Him or live a life full of hardship and live eternally in hell. The message is simple, straightforward, to the point, and without compromises.
In the story of the rich young ruler in Luke 18 and Matthew 19, Jesus had a conversation with a young man who asked him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus told the man that besides keeping the commandments, he needed to sell everything he had and give to the poor and follow him. The rich young ruler was full of sorrow when he heard this. He didn’t want to give up his accumulated wealth! Little did the man realize that by walking in obedience, his action would have yielded him even more wealth and blessings than he had now! Verse 29-30 says: “Assuredly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children for the sake of the kingdom of God who shall not receive many times more in this present time and in the age to come.” Matthew’s version says, “100-fold”. Jesus was telling this man, as He tells us today, to lay down your life for Him and He will give it all back to you, many times over.
The young ruler walked away and Jesus did not go after him. What He did was plant a seed of truth and it was up to the man to receive it or reject it. Seeds planted in receptive soil will yield a harvest, but those planted in stony ground will remain dormant or die. The choice is up to us whether we keep our soil fertile or allow it to grow stale and harden.
We see in Luke 9 where Jesus called His disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, the ability to cure diseases, and the mandate to preach the kingdom of God. (We are the disciples of today and have been given that same authority!) Jesus told them to seek their provision and shelter from people who would receive them and accept what they had to say. For those unwilling to be receptive to the disciples, He told them to “shake the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.“ In other words, if the people do not want to hear the truth, get the heck out of Dodge! Don’t look back! Don’t beg them! Just leave them in your dust. They had the opportunity to hear the truth but chose another path. Jesus was essentially saying, “It’s My way or the highway.”
Now, some would say that this sentiment is too harsh and that Jesus has way too much compassion to not chase after the lost with all fervency. But the simple truth is that He IS love and He IS compassion and does offer us a deal of a lifetime and to boot, is longsuffering, giving us a standing invitation with repeated gentle nudges. We need to remember that The Word is filled with If>Then statements. “If” you do this, “then” He will do this. Jesus is offering us a grand inheritance IF we accept His offer. What more could He possibly do other than laying His life down at the cross so that we could have victory in this life and have eternal life with Him? The great exchange was a finished work. He won’t go to the cross again for us…
So, what about those stubborn people who refuse to accept His glorious invitation of grace? How do we reach them? It is clear in scripture that we are to be the messenger and deliver the good news. But we can also be a witness in many ways in order to draw people toward Christ. We can live a life full of integrity and giving. We can pray for the laborers to come and witness to all of those who have rejected the Word. And we can do the works of Jesus as we are commanded and if we are truly walking the walk as a believer, then signs and wonders will follow us (Mark 16), and the unbelievers will be drawn one step closer to want to know the God Who is El-Elyon, the Most High God - Highest Sovereign of the heavens and the earth…
"I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6
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