A couple of weeks ago I read a news article about a “Christian rally” on a college campus in southern California. It had riled up some of the students, and caused quite a scene as people with opposing opinions shouted back and forth. It seems there was a group on campus that was promoting Christianity by telling students they were going to hell if they didn’t turn their lives over to Jesus. While it’s true this statement is biblical—“Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John14:6)—I’m not sure shouting it at students as they make their way to their next class is exactly the best methodology for sharing the gospel.
Scare them out of hell is one approach to sharing the gospel, I suppose, but Love them into heaven seems more in line with Jesus’ approach to teaching people about his purpose and plan. To be honest, when I read the article about the rally I got pretty sad. It’s no wonder people shy away from Christianity if that’s the only picture they see of Jesus.
It’s probably not a coincidence that when I read the aforementioned article I was also in the midst of reading Bob Goff’s book Everybody, Always: Becoming Love in a World Full of Setbacks and Difficult People. One thing that Bob says in his book is, “I’ve sometimes thought I’d make a lousy evangelist because I don’t think we lead people to Jesus. I think Jesus leads people to Jesus.” Bob’s premise is that we simply need to love people and point them towards Jesus. Jesus will do the rest.
YES! YES! YES!
In some ways it takes a lot of pressure off me if I don’t feel personally responsible for where someone else decides to spend eternity. In other ways, it puts a lot of pressure on me to love others in a way that makes Jesus look good. And honestly, that’s the area where I think Christians, in general, fall down. A lot. But, I get it; people aren’t always so very easy to love. But that doesn’t give us a “get out of loving others free” card. Bob says loving some people requires immense patience. I could write a whole blog on the things in my life that require immense patience—maybe another day—but seriously, it’s so true. Even loving the people you really love can require immense patience some days. Why would we expect loving someone whom we think has crazy ideas, behaviors, or quirks to be any easier? It’s not, but God calls us to do it anyway.
I love this quote from Bob’s book, “God doesn’t see people the way I do, though. The ones I see as problems God sees as sons and daughters, made in His image. The ones I see as difficult, He sees as delightfully different.”
To be honest, the people standing in the middle of the college quad yelling at people that they are bound for hell requires more immense patience from me than the ones who turn their backs on the idea of Christianity because they haven’t been very well loved by the Christians they’ve encountered. If you’ve been hurt by Christians in some way, please accept my apology on their behalf. And, can I remind you, that though they may love Jesus, they aren’t Jesus, and can totally screw things up, as I’m sure I’ve done myself more than once.
That said, if you love Jesus could you please do something for me today? Make Jesus look good. Show love to the “delightfully different” people in your life—even the ones who require immense patience.