What if, by just looking at someone, you could see the soul of that person? If you could tell if they were a Christian, would that change the way you interacted with them? Would you tell them about Jesus if you could see they had never met Him?
I wondered this as I was l leaving the mall this past weekend. I had needed some help in one of the stores and as I was walking out I waved to thank the women who had helped me. I wondered to myself if she knew Jesus. She had been helpful and friendly, much like you would expect from someone with a customer service job. The question just popped into my head: did she have Jesus’ love in her?
Christians are commanded to share the love of Jesus with the world. My guess is that very few of us tell random strangers about Jesus with reckless abandon. I have rested on being open with my beliefs, living out my faith. I am careful not to use inappropriate language and having never had an alcoholic drink makes for a great starting point when business meetings spill over into the bar, but I fall way short when it comes to evangelizing everywhere I go. Would that change if I had a visual reminder of the danger they are in? Or would I simply pray that someone they know would tell them about the Good News?
When you stop and think about how much Jesus did for us, you would think that sharing it with others would be something we do with enthusiasm. When you stop to think what it means if you die without giving your life to Christ, you would think that we would do everything we could to share the Truth.
Most of us wouldn’t believe just anything some stranger came up and told us. What people do respond to is something they like or something they are intrigued by. So what if we treated every person we came across in a way that would cause them to ask what makes us so joyful, or positive, or loving? What if we approached every interaction with the goal of showing them Jesus? If we live and interact in a way that causes people to ask us, and we are ready with an answer, then we will be able to share Jesus with anyone, even if we can’t see their soul with our own eyes.
As I was researching “the sinner’s prayer” this week, I came across a web article basically saying that the prayer was worthless and that true salvation comes from water baptism. So, I dug a little deeper into that belief to better understand it. In short, they use both biblical references (usually one verse without the context around it) and the absence of anyone actually praying a similar prayer in the scriptures as the basis of their argument.
I disagree with the argument; Romans 10 speaks of belief in Christ as the path to Salvation. Sure, this is one chapter without context, but it is in line with what Jesus said in His teachings throughout the Gospels. This is not to ignore the command “believe and be baptized”; it is just to say that “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8 (italics added)
As I thought about this further, I realized that the danger that the salvation-through-baptism crowd warns about is very true. If you simply pray the prayer and “get saved” are you really fulfilling your part of the deal? Not that we can earn anything from God – we are all woefully short on that account – but there are two commands given by Jesus that we must follow – “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:34-40). “Getting saved” is not the end, it is the beginning.
I am not even close to being qualified as judge or jury; so, I can’t tell you beyond debate that praying “the sinner’s prayer” and then walking away as if nothing happened and not changing anything else in your life would get you to Heaven. I do know that is not what God wants. He wants us to turn away from sin and obey His commands. After your conversion you should be a new person, turning away from your old nature, and trying to live for God and serve others with unconditional love.
Being a Christian is not about a one-time prayer or immersion in water – it is a life; a relationship that God desires with all of us. He seeks us out and longs to commune with us constantly. Boiling it down to one prayer or one act (and then debating the relevance of either) is missing the point. It turns Christianity into simply another religion and diminishes why God “became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”