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[Jesus] said, “Truly I say to you, no prophet is welcome in his hometown.” (Luke 4:24 NASB)
So Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You should leave here and go to Judea so your followers there can see the miracles you do. Anyone who wants to be well known does not hide what he does. If you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” (Even Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him.) (John 7:3-5 NCV)
Someone told Jesus, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside. They want to see you.” (Luke 8:20 GW)
IF YOU COULD ASK JUST ONE QUESTION OF SOMEONE YOU LOVE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
This would have to be a humdinger of a question, wouldn’t it? Something really special, more important than a lame, “How are you?” or “What are you planning for the rest of your life?”
Something that cuts through the noise of life. You know, a question that stops them in their tracks, makes them put down their mobile phone, or mute the TV, or drop a book. Something that makes them turn around and look straight at you, intent on their face, an ear cocked, their hands stilled.
What would that question be that would be your last outreach to a loved one? This would be a close family member probably. Most likely a spouse or a child, even an adult child. It could be a sibling or a longtime friend.
Maybe it would be someone who had wounded you years ago with a sharp remark, or someone who was by your side no matter what the situation, good or bad. Maybe you’re looking at a child who looks just like you, only younger than you and more vibrant. Maybe you’re staring into the eyes of the person whose body has warmed yours for decades and with whom you’ve raised a family.
An important person — an important question.
What would it be?
MINE WOULD BE some form of this: [Name of loved one inserted here], do you know Jesus? I probably would explain the question this way: I mean, really know Him? Have you invited Him into your heart to be your Lord and Savior? Have you confessed your sins to Him (He knows what they are, anyway), and asked Him to blot them out, just forget about them, and give you a clean slate?
If you haven’t, what keeps you from reaching out to the One who’s reaching out to you? Do you think it’s pride, a feeling that you can handle life’s adventures, even the emergencies, on your own; or maybe it’s fear that He’ll demand something of you that you’re not ready to give?
If you have come to know the Lord, how did that go? Did you weep? Did you sing? Did you leap for joy? Did you just feel an unimaginable peace wash over you as He lifted the weight of worry from your shoulders? Or, was it just another moment, and you’re not sure what happened, if anything, but your life has changed?
Why would I ask that question of all questions? If I knew the person well, and the person had come to what many call “a saving knowledge” of Jesus Christ, wouldn’t I know already if they knew Jesus?
Maybe, but maybe not.
There probably are three categories people fall into in regards to matters of faith: those who know the Lord and proudly witness for their faith, those who have no personal connection with the Lord but think their good works or church attendance or wonderful intentions will merit divine favor, and those who could care less.
THE TROUBLING POINT is that those we care most about, the ones we pray for and long to see in eternity, are the ones who won’t listen to our voice of encouragement. They’ll listen to a stranger first (someone whose own family won’t listen to them!).
Beginning a conversation around the topic is difficult.
Not everyone who truly knows the Lord will share that information with others, even though the Bible clearly commands us to do that. For whatever reason, some folks never get over their personal discomfort.
Those in the other two categories aren’t likely to bring up the subject, either. The church attenders who are not personally connected with the Lord are content with appearances — simply showing up is enough; while those who disdain faith have no reason to discuss the matter, unless it’s to detract from it.
SO, WITHIN OUR THREE CATEGORIES, nearly everyone finds a way to avoid discussing the one question that, above all other questions, needs an answer.
Jesus put it this way to His disciples: “But what about you,” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15 NIV).
Pastor John Piper of Desiring God ministries, poses the following questions to skeptics, and they’re ones I would present to my loved ones: “If God exists, would it be important for you to get your life right with Him?” and “Do you put Jesus in the same category as other religious leaders?”
Usually, there’s flak that comes back. “The Christians I know are a bunch of hypocrites,” or “Jesus was a really fine moral man and a great teacher, but He wasn’t God,” or maybe “Bible stories sound nice, but they’re just designed to make us feel good.”
While those responses can be tossed aside easily as mere fluff, what they expose is an emptiness of soul that is painful for a loved one to see. Especially when we have come to accept the Lord’s promise of life as a result of His grace, and we want desperately to share that blessing with our closest family and friends … only to realize … they won’t listen to us.
WHEN CONFRONTED BY His earthly family to curtail His ministry, Jesus asked rhetorically, who His mother and brothers and sisters were and answered His own question this way: “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50 NIV).
The way we have resolved the dilemma is to continue praying for our loved ones, that the Lord will change their hearts from skeptical to open and that He will bring Christ-focused people into their lives.
In turn, we believe the Lord has called us to make a difference in someone else’s life, to be the Christ-focused people for them to hear, especially those people who are deaf to the questions posed from their own loved ones.
We’re called to serve and share our faith, keeping others in prayer. The rest is out of our hands.
PRAYER: O gracious and merciful Father, we know too often we turn deaf ears to Your Word and ignore Your voice, often uncertain of how to act. We know You did not give us timid hearts but bold hearts. We pray, then, for boldness in reaching out to our loved ones with the message of Love and Truth, and we pray for softened hearts on their part to hear our plea. Come, Lord Jesus, into the hearts and lives of our loved ones, both family and friends. Reconcile them to the Father and to the Truth. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen