Helping without Jesus isn’t Helping…
I had a great conversation with a businessman from Denmark last night. Through some pretty unique circumstances we found ourselves talking about life, hope and purpose. These kinds of conversations usually start the same way in the northwest. They begin by us asking what each other do for a living and when I respond that I’m a Pastor there’s one of two responses; complete disengagement from the conversation or a great conversation, this was the latter.
Last night the gentleman I was talking to told me that he has no faith, doesn’t pray or go to church and can’t understand why someone that’s not stupid would waste their time with ‘God.’ Denmark has a Christian underpinning but the Church of Denmark is pretty dormant in its impact in the lives of those who are a part of it. We had a great conversation about our families, jobs and hopes for the future. I challenged him to consider where he puts his confidence; where we put our confidence is our god and we all have one (even if it’s us).
His one point of significant frustration with me was why I insist on talking about Jesus when I could just do good and tell other people to do good without requiring Jesus or God to be a part of it. At one point he told me that I was a great person and I should take the credit for the life change I watch in others. I told him that the main problem with that idea is that I know myself, I know that I’m not making those changes, God is.
I countered with two reasons why I never help others or give advice without including Jesus:
First, me telling people what to do without Jesus is just like me adding a law to their life. The Bible is clear that the law exists (whether it’s the one in the Bible or the one on our heart) to reveal to us that we aren’t capable of fulfilling it on our own (Gal.3). How abusive would it be for me to tell people to jump several stories high with lots of practical tips on how to do it when I know that they are incapable of completing my request, no matter what they do. The Gospel says that Jesus completed the law for me and it’s in relationship with Him that I have freedom and ultimate hope (Gal.4). Self-help isn’t helping anyone, the Gospel-less, advise column spirituality isn’t getting people to Jesus and it isn’t where God is working in our world.
Second, it seems really manipulative to wait till some special moment after I’ve ‘earned’ the right to talk to someone about something that is so central to me and I’m just using the chance to help them to get into their life and flip it upside down. I think we have to examine closely our motives for this kind of delay and the ultimate failure that it usually yields. The man I was talking to had a son who played basketball at a church for several years and they prayed before games but never included him in community, never shared the Gospel and never got past the desire to eventually share; they probably wanted to, it just never happened.
Our culture appreciates honesty and when I share the Gospel openly with no strings attached and a willingness to continue to love, help and care for those I’m talking with, regardless of where they are with Jesus…the response is usually very positive.
Why are you delaying the Gospel in relationships? Is it because you don’t want them to reject Jesus? Or because you don’t want them to reject you? How can Jesus change your heart to communicate the life-changing power of Christ in the lives of others?