Can I make a confession to you?
There is a part of the Christian life that is frustrating to me.
I know that is a strange way to start off talking about something that is dear and precious to me. Something that I wouldn’t give up for anything. But it is honest, so let me explain.
I spent almost four decades of my life in the corporate retail world. I understand the principles of selling. And those principles are the same regardless of whether you are selling cars, real estate, insurance, apparel, food, services, or whatever.
One of the first steps in any sale is to determine the needs of the customer. After all, it’s probably a waste of time to try to sell a sports car to a guy who needs a work truck. A real estate agent would not suggest a two-bedroom house to a family with lots of children. The insurance needs of a young family are drastically different than for a single person. And on and on.
So to be successful in any sales related career, you have to learn to discern the needs of those you are dealing with. It has to become a core part of your mindset.
And I think that brings me to a major point of the Christian life that is frustrating to me.
RESPONDING TO JESUS
I believe with every ounce of my being that people are in need of Jesus– not some people, all people. I have lived on both sides of the Jesus equation. In fact, I lived many more years without Jesus than I have with Him. I have seen the before and after in my life and the lives of others. And the evidence is compelling: We all need for Jesus in our lives. Even the lives of those who don’t understand or believe it yet.
So that’s why I get frustrated. It’s not that I have any frustrations with the Christian life itself. It’s that there are so many others living without the positive change that the love and grace of Jesus can make in their lives. And that is tragic.
While I understand that you or anyone else has the right to make whatever choice you please about Jesus, it bothers me to see anyone settling for less than is available. There’s this enormous gift out there available to everyone, yet many never take advantage of it. So yes, that’s frustrating!
Maybe you are reading this, and you’re a follower of Christ who already believes what I’m saying. You could stop reading right now but I hope you won’t. Just maybe there will be a point or two here that will be encourage you in modeling the love and grace of Jesus to those who don’t believe as you do.
Or maybe you don’t really believe in this Jesus stuff or are not sure what you believe. If that’s the case, I hope you will stick with me just a tad longer as I look at what I see as the four categories of those who have not accepted the message and grace of Jesus into their lives. Maybe you will identity with one of these categories. In any case, I promise not to take out my frustrations on you.
1. REJECTION OF JESUS
There are those who, for whatever reason, outrightly reject the offer of Jesus. They may or may not believe in God. In either case, they do not accept that Jesus, by His death on the cross, died for the forgiveness of their sins. They just don’t believe it.
If you identify yourself as being in this category, let me give you a break- you can’t live what you don’t believe.
But can I ask you to think about two questions for a few days:
—What if these Jesus believers are right?
—What if there really is something here that I am missing?
2. RESISTANT TOWARD JESUS
There are others who do not overtly reject Jesus but just don’t want to go through the whole religious ordeal. Life is complicated enough already.
So what if I told you that today there are more ways to explore Jesus hassle-free than ever?
Your exploration can include church services that are now widely available online. There is more faith-based teaching at your fingertips in the privacy of your own home today than you could ever imagine. And this very forum that is delivering this blog to you right now has interactive capabilities where you can explore Jesus and faith-based topics digitally without worries about any high-pressure tactics that you might fear in a face-to-face situation.
The only requirement of Jesus is Jesus. So if organized religion is a non-starter for you, explore Jesus another way. He will welcome you regardless of your method.
3. RECEPTIVE TO JESUS
Then there are those who are receptive to the message of Jesus but have not yet reached the tipping point of faith to get them over the top. If you find yourself in this category, I urge you to intentionally put yourself in circumstances that give Jesus the opportunity to draw you nearer to that point.
This intentionality can come in many forms. It may be setting aside a half hour during the day to explore an easy-to-read Bible. It could be daily following the blogs and podcasts of this Lifeword forum. It might be finding a Christ-believing friend you can talk with on a consistent basis. Certainly, the best way that I have found to intentionally give Jesus the opportunity to influence me is in church attendance.
Your method of intentionally putting yourself in circumstances where Jesus can work in your life is up to you. But the importance of doing so cannot be overstated. Because the uncomfortable truth is that until you accept Jesus, you are rejecting Jesus. There really is no middle ground.
4. READY FOR JESUS
There are those who are ready for Jesus but simply don’t know what to do next. My encouragement to you is that there are people willing to help you with that right now. And I beg you to take advantage of that help quickly.
Pick up the phone and call a godly friend or call a church office and ask for help. Access the interactive guidance and help available digitally through this Lifeword ministry or some other ministry. Summon the courage to walk through a church door even if that is totally strange to you.
Because regardless of who you are or where you’re coming from, I promise that Jesus is there to welcome you.
And I promise that I’ll be a little less frustrated.