Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A God Who Gives Us A Choice

I think we both know that there is a difference between Jesus and his followers. There shouldn't be but there is. More often than not we say we follow Jesus but what we do is subscribe to his teaching without actually examining how he put it into practical application. We hear James tell us to not just read the Word but to do what it says, and then we discuss it to death. Jesus did not just come to die for us, he also came to set the example of what it is to live by the Spirit in submission to the Father's will.

I dare you to find a moment when Jesus forced anyone to do anything, other then when he cleared out the temple of the thieves who had converted the house of prayer to a market place for the desperate. Jesus never even forced his teaching on anyone. The only ones who were forced to obey were the demons who he cast out of people so they would be free to receive the good news. Jesus always invited. He came to give an invitation to those who would accept it.

The truth of this struck me as I refreshed myself in the Word this morning and was reminded of those first invitations to the disciples:

The next day, John was there again, and two of his followers were with him. When he saw Jesus walking by, he said, “Here is the Lamb of God!” John’s two followers heard him, and they went with Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them, he asked, “What do you want?” They answered, “Rabbi, where do you live?” The Hebrew word “Rabbi” means “Teacher.”  Jesus replied, “Come and see!” It was already about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him and saw where he lived. So they stayed on for the rest of the day. (John 1:35-39)

Jesus is far from a wimp, taking on Satan, demons, storms, and the Pharisees, but neither is he a bully. He showed us the Father's heart as he was patient with those lost in sin. He invited and never coerced. He told people they had a decision to make and they will be judged on that decision, but still it was their decision. He spent his days giving people the information they needed to make that decision. He revealed the power, mercy, grace and love of the Father in contrast to the ugliness of the enemy and the sin he helped introduce to this world.

Too many of us act like salesmen, pressuring people into something they are not sure about. Often they allow us to pray with them to just get rid of us. Those who encountered Jesus never walked away the same. They were never undecided. They were either with him or against him. Not because his presentation angered them or because his mannerism put them off but because of the words he spoke. He spoke the truth with sincerity and people were either attracted or repelled.

We do not own people's decision to the good news we share. We don't have to force them, trick them, manipulate them, or guilt them. But we do have to speak the truth. We speak and the Spirit convicts. We speak and people decide. We speak. We tell the truth and we do it without a sales pitch. We do it without a "method". We just speak and God gives us the words.

Of course we are emotional and compassionate and desire above everything for people to know what we know. We want them saved. But we need to know the Father's heart, to do what he has done and not as we think we should. God does not force himself on anyone. We need to see Jesus' example and accept it. He spoke with the power of the Spirit. He spoke and demons fled. He spoke and the dead rose. He spoke and the blind could see. He spoke and disease was healed. He spoke and salvation was received.And then he told us to do the same. He told us to do, not to talk about it or talk against it. Either you believe or you don't. Either you have faith or you don't. Either you serve or you don't. Either we follow or we don't. Let's make up our mind.

No comments: