Julie is a friend who has a passion for “bringing people to Jesus.” Her passion comes from a sincere conviction that God is calling her to this task. Her energy and dedication also come from a heart-felt concern for anyone she knows who does not also know Jesus. Her motivation is honest and completely centered on the well-being of the other person. There is no selfishness or condemnation in any of Julie’s efforts to introduce someone to the love of Jesus. She lives in near-poverty just so she can be close to the people she feels called to save.
Many people believe that we Christians are responsible for “bringing people to Jesus.” After all, Jesus Himself told us to: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,” (Matthew 28:19)
By her desire to bring people to Jesus and the salvation He offers, my friend Julie does tend to take her calling to extremes however. Packed with emotion, concern, zeal and a real sense of urgency, she tends to push pretty hard on her prospective converts. And many times I fear she pushes them right out the door.
Do you wonder; is Julie an example of what Jesus really meant when He instructed us to make disciples of everyone? Or is the truth somewhere else? I believe that it’s not my job to “bring people to Jesus;” I believe its Gods intention to do the hard work of actually bringing someone to His Son. As Jesus said…
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6:44-45)
He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him.” (John 6:65)
I believe the truth is that we are just to be a witness, to testify to what we know:
“And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (John 15:27)
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations,” (Matthew 24:14)
In a complex court trial, it’s rarely the testimony of just one witness that sways the jury; it’s the testimony of all the witnesses, who were paraded past the jury by a skilled attorney. In our efforts to evangelize and help “bring someone to Jesus,” we need to realize that we are just one in a potentially long line of witnesses. And God is the skilled attorney, bringing forward the right witness at just the right time. It’s God who does the hard work of bringing the “jury” to the desired conclusion.
If our efforts to help bring people to God end up pushing them away, we need to look at our motivation and methods. Compared to my friend Julie, my methods are very passive. Outside of this blog site, I’m not very outspoken when it comes to talking about the salvation of others. I never hesitate to divulge my true faith, but I try not to push my faith upon others. I like to subscribe to the advice of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Though I like to change it a bit to, “Preach the Gospel at all times, using words only when absolutely necessary.”
I wonder if it was that kind of wordless evangelism that Jesus had in mind when He said: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
While Julie’s motivation is based on humility and a sincere concern for others, I’ve seen other evangelists whose motivation appears to come from a different source. I’ve met many who sincerely believe they are fully qualified to be both witness and attorney; to take someone and lead them all the way from their old life, to a new life with Jesus. They believe they have the wisdom, knowledge, power and perseverance to do the whole job. Where does this belief come from?
As is the root cause of most of our problems, here again is the ego. It’s our ego and hunger for pride that draws us to the belief that we are qualified to do the hard work. After all, if all we do is the easy work, the work of just telling the truth, and letting God do the hard work of bringing others to salvation; then where is the credit for us? As a witness we get no credit, since all the credit goes to God, the attorney.
But that’s just it! Credit is not what it’s all about. A sense of accomplishment is not what we should be after. We shouldn’t witness for Jesus out of a desire for a pat on the back. We should witness out of our love for Him. All the credit for anything good that happens in our lives should go to God.
So as I’ve said before, humility is the secret. If you really want to be a servant for God, helping bring others to Jesus, then cultivate your humility first. And leave all the hard work for God. As D.L. Moody once said, “There is no better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit.”