You can't bring people to Christ alone
Published 10:54 am Monday, March 22, 2004
Do you stagger under a heavy load of expectation that you alone (or that you primarily) are responsible for bringing your friends and coworkers to faith? Or do you ever feel discouraged because family members refuse to accept the gospel? Do you feel guilty because you can't get them converted?
If so you may take some comfort from the fact that even Jesus' brothers did not believe that He was the Christ. Even though they had seen His miracles and listened to His teaching, they still balked at the idea of placing faith in Jesus as the Son of God. This is important to notice because it shows that the person that hears the gospel bears responsibility for communicating with faithfulness. If we, as believers, ever start holding ourselves responsible for whether unbelievers accept or reject the message of Christ, we are headed for trouble!
That's not to suggest that we can be careless in our witness or ignore our credibility. Notice that Jesus' brothers rejected Him in spite of His works and words. Is that true of us? Or do people dismiss our faith because our lives show little evidence that what we say we believe is true or that it makes any difference to us?
While explaining how people enter the Kingdom, Jesus clearly declared that it is God the Father who draws them. That means that people's response to the gospel does not depend primarily on you or on Jesus. Clearly, the responsibility for conversion ultimately belongs to the Father.
Then is there anything we can do as Christ's followers to motivate others toward the Savior? Yes, we can give evidence of how God works in our lives as we grow. We can offer clear, truthful information about the gospel as we have opportunity. And we can invite and even urge others to believe.
Throughout history people have longed for leaders to whom they can attach themselves. They often tie their own aspirations to the charisma and vision of a famous person, using that person to achieve their own ends, which are sometimes quite incompatible.
Jesus knew the pattern well. He came to accomplish the work that His Father has given Him. But others quickly attached their own agendas and values to His plans. Jesus resisted the mixed intentions of some of His followers and admirers because His Kingdom differed fundamentally from their expectations.
What exactly was Jesus' concept of the Kingdom, and what difference does it make for people today? Unfortunately, some believers run to the other extreme: they fold their hands and shut their mouths, when it comes to evangelism. After all, it's up to God to bring people to faith. Is that what Jesus intended?
Maybe you have decided that since it's up to God to bring people to faith, you can relax and keep quite about the gospel. Is that realistic? One of the most important ways that we can give evidence of our faith in Christ is through the way we do our work.
The Holy Spirit is the great evangelist, but Scripture also urges us to work with the Spirit in influencing others with the gospel.
But the ultimate responsibility for salvation is God's, not ours. So relax! Live the faith, talk about it, and offer it to others. But let the dynamic conversion be from God alone.
Rev. Mary Dees is the pastor of Sampey
AME Zion Church.