Tuesday, September 23, 2008

4 Minute Devotions: Bible Belt Bashing

Our young people are often pressurized by their zealous evangelical peers. How would Jesus share the Gospel with our teenagers?

Podcast version here

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

“Being saved” is a big deal here in the Bible belt. A lot of our young people are pressurized by some of their zealous peers, who make them run a theological gauntlet in classes, school canteens, and during recess. They are asked questions like: Are you saved? Have you given your heart to Jesus? Are you going to heaven or hell? It’s an unfair and un-Christlike way of trying to share the Gospel. I wish that some of those religious fanatics would take a leaf out of Jesus’ own ministry, and copy His method.

Take the story about Zacchaeus. Jesus doesn’t ask him if he is saved, or if he’s going to heaven or hell. Jesus invites himself into the tax gatherer’s home, in order to meet him where Zacchaeus is comfortable. He doesn’t accuse him of not being faithful, or of being unsaved. Christ simply wants to share a meal with him and show Zacchaeus compassion, friendship, and fellowship.

That’s what changes the tax man’s heart. Christ accepts him where he is, as well as who he is, in order to bring the kingdom of heaven into Zacchaeus’ life. Jesus doesn’t berate him for being unpopular, sinful, or greedy. He simply sits down with the man, has a meal, and shares the Gospel in a non-confrontational way.

And this method works because Zacchaeus’ life changes from that moment on. The kingdom of God enters into his heart through the grace, mercy, and love of God that Christ brings. Zacchaeus become a new person because Christ was willing to share fellowship with him, not criticism, fear, and judgment.

Perhaps there are people in our lives who we’ve been trying to come to church, or get saved by God. Maybe we’ve been more hostile rather than helpful, confrontational rather than compassionate, or judgmental rather than joyful. If that is the case, then it’s time to adopt Christ’s method in our faith sharing by offering fellowship, grace, and love. In the long run, it’s evidently more effective than fear, goading, and leverage.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we all want to see the entire world saved, but sometimes our zeal gets in the way of Your ministry and love. Keep us from being self-righteous and unrelenting; help us to be more compassionate and loving. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.


Byron said...

That is one of the great things about Jesus. When dealing with folks such as Zacchaeus, the woman at the well, the man at the pool of Bethesda, the woman with the issue of blood, various blind, lame, leperous folks, and even the demoniac of Gadarenes...he always showed compassion and love toward them as sinners. But, when it came to the "religious" folks, he was always quick to come down on them, pointing out their flaws, sins, and self righteousness ("O generation of vipers.")

Oh, if we could only be more like Him. You would think after 2000 years we evangelicals would have learned something!

Thanks for this lovely post.

Stushie said...

Thanks Byron. I appreciate your own words of understanding and encouragement. God bless you.

Enigma said...

I was so happy to see your post on this topic. So often, I feel like our faith has been hijacked by bullies and pharisees. I know that most non-Christians I come in contact with have had negative experiences with over-zealous people who seem to want to convert them more than they want to love them.

Stushie said...

Thanks Enigma. I "Amen' your own comments.