- Posted January 31, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Impact Your World
Contrary to my Methodist/Baptist upbringing, my heart cannot agree with the emphasis from the church to "get people saved" over loving them. While that statement may be inflammatory to many, allow me to clarify that I am not disagreeing with salvation, nor am I touting some sort of universal nonsense suggesting eternity is possible without Christ. However, our motivation in winning the lost has to extend beyond the point of salvation, otherwise we end up getting people to cross the line without revealing Christ beyond the cross. Dan Mohler often states, "I'm not a big fan of trying to get people to pray our prayer so we can move on to the next person." When we approach the lost with the mentality of getting them to pray the "sinners prayer", we are not doing something that Christ or the apostles did. Instead, we use natural knowledge and reason to try to manipulate people into agreeing with us and praying our prayer. This approach to evangelism presents Christ as a "means to an end" rather than a person we get to know. The sinner's prayer itself isn't bad, but emphasizing the prayer in evangelism instead of a change of heart (repentance) is not the model we see from Christ.
When we try to "pursue friendship with the lost" with the ulterior motivation of leading them to Christ, we become the very thing that people loathe: a person with an agenda. How can we legitimately love someone when we are trying to build rapport so we can eventually get them to pray our prayer? Evangelism is awesome (anyone that knows me personally can testify that I love to share Jesus with people), but I don't try to get them to pray my prayer without showing them the Jesus that I love.
Christ is not an objective, He is a lover.Ever notice how neither Jesus or the apostles preached the way that we do today? If we believe the sinner's prayer is required prior to someone entering heaven, then we suggest that throughout Christ's entire earthly ministry He didn't put a single soul in heaven (including the 12). We know that isn't the case (the 12 are the foundation for the New Jerusalem in Rev 21:14). Our testimony of being translated from darkness to light is a declaration of His love for us! The Gospel is summed up in this "God so loved that He gave His son..."
It is His kindness that leads men to repentance. Anyone can find the sinfulness of the lost, only a Christian can see people for their created value... who God has built them to be. When Paul shared with Agrippa, he didn't point out Agrippa's flaws (incest) but Paul shared his own testimony of God's grace towards him. When Christ met the woman at the well and the adulteress, He did not bring conviction but grace and mercy. Even in pointing out the woman at the well's sin, she was not convicted to pray the prayer and cry out for mercy... but was so enthralled with His person that she shared with her entire city. Why? Because Christ did not come to condemn the world but to save it (John 3:17), the world is already condemned by its' own conscience (Rom 2:15).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ BEGINS at the cross, it doesn't end there. If God's objective was just to get our names on the "nice list" instead of the "naughty list" our bodies would be translated to heaven the moment we believed. He desires you! His heart is to build relationship with you. Why? Because you are a son/daughter. He is the good Father, beloved Papa... my Daddy. My Jesus died not just to put me in heaven, but to put heaven in me! Everything that I need to walk this life out as Jesus did resides in me! If we actually reveal the Truth to people as we walk out this life, that as they believe in Christ they are new creations... rather than being seed that lands in rocky places (growing up fast but withering without roots) we will sow the seed of love deep into the soil of their souls which cannot help but bear fruit.