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Friday, March 28, 2008

Introducing Jesus Part Vier

Every Christ follower heard about Jesus from someone else.

Maybe from an individual. Maybe they heard the story of Jesus in a group. But somebody else told them the story.

Maybe it was a person like John the Baptist who pointed the way and said, “Look, the Lamb of God.”

Maybe it was a person like Andrew who started hanging around John the Baptist—looking, anticipating, and waiting for the Messiah to show up on the scene. He probably had these crazy stories about hanging out with other spiritual seekers and inquirers and one day he came face-to-face with Jesus and he just had to tell someone about it! “Here’s the guy that we’ve been looking for!”

Or, maybe they heard the story from an intellectual and that’s exactly what that individual needed—someone like Phillip, who was well versed in theology, who knew the history and was ready and willing to give someone an account of the indisputable facts. They were interested in religious things and he knew they would be interested just like Nathanael.

Maybe somebody’s introduction to Jesus was more like Jesus’ own approach when He said, “Come and hang with me.” Maybe it all started with a “come on, and hang out at my place.” Someone sought to understand them and “do life” with them.

When all of the disciples were called to Jesus, I am not sure that everybody at that point in the story completely “got it.” I am not sure that they started following Jesus and they completely understood what it meant at that point. Some may have. But some certainly had to grow in to Jesus. There was a good period of time for some between the following and the “I am willing to give my life for this guy.”

I am not saying that the best “evangelism” is the kind where we sit back and let people observe—without us ever engaging them. BUT I am leaving room for that being the very thing that some people will respond to.

I’m not saying that it’s not necessary for us to know the “gospel” message and to know how to explain it. But I am saying that some people will just not be too interested in a flip-chart presentation across the kitchen table and they will liken it to us selling them soap.

I’m not saying that it’s not necessary for us to be able to present the “gospel” in a concise manner. But I am saying that people smell a salesman a mile away.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t dig into our Bible and digest it and understand it and fall in love with it. But I am saying if that’s all we do with it and we just keep it to ourselves, we don’t ever share it with anybody else, that we may as well just digest and learn and memorize and understand the entire Harry Potter collection, because it won’t make an eternal difference.

I’m not saying there’s no room for persuasion or for challenges or for tough questions or encouraging people to get to a point of surrender. I am saying that we are not responsible for somebody making a decision.

All these approaches and ways people "come to Jesus" are valid. None are better than the other standing on their own merit. Some ARE better than others in relation to individuals.

We’re responsible to tell our story. And to listen to "their" story. That old saying that people don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care is true.

Food for thought.