Ever wonder why someone you are witnessing to (or trying to spiritually encourage) doesn’t seem to understand the Scripture you present to them? Or maybe they just don’t accept the Scripture altogether. Perhaps it is as it was when Jesus spoke to the Jews in John 8:31-59. More specifically verses 43-47:
“Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is not truth in him…but because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
This may not always be the case when someone fails to understand. It does, after all, take time to grow in understanding of God’s Word. But if you encounter extreme barriers when speaking God’s Word to others, it’s something to keep in mind. If the one you are speaking to is not “of God”, if they do not know Him, then how can they clearly comprehend God’s Word? “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (I Cor. 1:18).
Perhaps rather than beginning our teaching with doctrine or Biblical values, we need to first introduce them to the God who saves. It is only after they know Him that they will more clearly be able to discern His will. “…Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:1-2). Let’s begin with Christ, with the One who has the power to transform. With the One who can renew their mind. Only then, after fully submitting themselves to God, will we begin to see a clear understanding of Scripture that results in Godly living.
Dr. Jerry Falwell wore a pin for most of his life that read “Jesus First.” During my 4 years at Liberty University, I never saw him when he wasn’t wearing that pin. His conviction was that Jesus was first in his life, and that Jesus was the first priority in his life, above all else. Not only that, but Jesus–as the first priority–was also the standard for everything else in His life. When I graduated, shortly after his death, each graduate was given one of these pins to wear with our regalia. Every time I see it, it’s a HUGE reminder to me that Jesus is not just the most important aspect of my life, He is the PURPOSE of my life. He is what defines everything else. Tying that into the remainder of this post, don’t you think He should also be the FIRST thing we share with a lost and dying world?
If we meet an alcoholic man who is destroying his family, OF COURSE helping him with his alcohol problem is a crucial thing! But there’s still one thing that’s even MORE important than helping him to become sober. If he surrenders his life to Christ, his life will be transformed in just that one step. Yes, it still takes work. Yes, he’ll still need accountability and help with his alcohol-addiction. But first things first–He needs JESUS! And if we truly believe that Jesus comes first, we’ll know that his surrendering his life to Christ is much more important than his becoming sober. If that’s true, we’ll focus on what’s MOST important–sharing with him the glorious message of a Savior who has the power to transform his life!
We’re called to “make disciples”, and the first step toward being a disciple is not to get off alcohol, stop doing drugs, or stop committing fornication. Those are Godly things that believers WILL do in obedience to Christ. But none of these are the first step in discipleship. The first step of discipleship is faith in Jesus Christ. If the lost develop this faith, then we can walk with them to help them grow to a mature disciple. But remember, mature disciples are NEVER made apart from faith in Christ. Because apart from faith in Christ, you simply AREN’T a disciple.
For those of you who do know Christ, is He first to you? Is He most important in your life? Is He the standard by which everything in your life is compared? If He is, are you passing on to the world around you the one thing in the world that’s most important to you? If you’re not, I’ll wager to say that He really ISN’T first to you. And if not, what is? What keeps you from sharing Christ with the world around you? Examine your life. Examine your heart. Ask the Lord in prayer to reveal this thing to you. And when He reveals it, pour your entire self into changing whatever it is that is holding you back.
If you don’t know Christ, please check out my next post about my life with Christ, who He is to me, and how you can know Him too. If you want to talk, feel free to leave comments or questions below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to talk with you about the Lord of my life!