Thursday, October 3, 2019

Why Hold Back When We Know the Cure?

Suppose you’re a medical researcher diagnosed with a dread, terminal disease. You determine to apply all of your skill, expertise and intelligence in search of a cure. And one day, much to your delight – and surprise – you find it. You conduct necessary tests to confirm your findings – no question about it. There’s a cure for you, and for anyone else who wants it.

There’s only one problem: You wonder, “Who am I to impose this cure on someone else?” With so many physicians and medical centers providing other treatment methods, you think it might be “intolerant” to let anyone else know about your good news.

Ridiculous, right? Rather than intolerant, you’d be regarded as selfish at best, cruel and murderous at worst, for withholding such wonderful, life-giving information. 

And yet, this is exactly what happens every day in our communities, across the country and around the world, in a spiritual sense. The disease is called “sin,” which describes not only bad behavior and wrong thinking, but also separation from God. In the Scriptures we find the “cure,” which is Jesus Christ. People need to hear and have the opportunity to respond. However, as Romans 10:14 says, “How then can they call on the One in whom they have not believed? And how can their believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?”

This is why Jesus, in His Great Commission before ascending into heaven, instructed all of His followers, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). This command was not solely for the “green berets” of Christianity, the “special forces” who are seminary-trained, but to everyone who professes the name of Jesus Christ.

Sadly, studies indicate only about 10 percent of all professed followers of Jesus actively share their faith with others. That means 90 percent of the men, women and young people assembling for worship each week never get into the action. They may know, as Romans 3:23 states, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” and that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). For some reason, however, they feel disinclined to share with others about the Good News, summarized in the last part of that verse: “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

There are many reasons – or excuses – for not talking with others about Jesus. We might fear rejection, that people would label us “fanatics” or “Jesus freaks.” There’s fear of failure, that we’ll mess up somehow in presenting the gospel message. We might think we’re not adequately prepared or trained for the task, that we don’t know the Bible well enough, or need to attend more evangelism workshops or conferences. There are other justifications as well, but when put to the test, all lack validity.

Consider, for example, the blind man that had his sight restored by Jesus. When interrogated by the Pharisees, he didn’t respond with a detailed theological treatise. He just replied, “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see” (John 9:25).

Then there was the Samaritan woman at the well, who was shocked to have a Jewish man – Jesus – approach her, especially given her sketchy background. After He described Himself as the “living water,” and compassionately recounted her painful past, the woman ran to tell the townspeople. The passage then states, Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did’” (John 4:39). 

This woman had never attended Sunday school, or received specialized evangelistic training. Like the blind man, all she knew was this was someone unlike anyone she had ever encountered and she was eager to tell everyone else about Him.
If only each of us was as eager to tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. We tend to think that’s the job of trained professionals, like pastors and missionaries. We support their efforts with money in the offering plate or checks in the mail. We applaud or shout a hearty “Amen!” when we hear about people who have given their hearts to Christ. But how often do we consider, “Could it be that God has brought this person into my life for a reason – to share about Jesus?”

Every one of us is afflicted with a disease called sin, and if not cured, it is terminal for all eternity. We can’t cure ourselves, much less anyone else. But we know the One who can. What we can do is tell them that the cure is available – and theirs for the asking.

Maybe we should pray a simple prayer, “God, I’m willing to talk with someone about You. I don’t know if I’m up to the challenge, but I know that You are. I also know the Scriptures promise that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Make me sensitive to someone who needs to hear about you today.” I have every confidence that is one prayer the Lord will not fail to answer.

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