Monday, February 2, 2015

NBA #2: Don't Squash Others

New Believer Advice #2:  Remember not to squash other people during this time of enthusiasm.
            When you first let God’s love and healing and forgiveness into your heart, it is easy to want others to experience it, too.  To want to force it on them.  Plus, you feel honored to have found the Truth, and you will want others to see it, too.  And so you might be tempted to “beat people over the head with the Bible.”  But this always backfires.    
            You have to be careful to balance the truth with love and respect for the other person.  If you try to force your beliefs on others or if you stop treating them as people as start treating them as just “the lost” and “targets for conversion,” you will push them away.  Jesus was always about gently drawing people to Him, not forcibly pulling them or rubbing their noses in His Truth. 
            Unlike the Pharisees and those who were “spiritually wise” in their own eyes!  Jesus's harshest words of condemnation were for them, for those who hammered others with legalistic rules.  And He pulled no punches when it came to confronting them with the truth.  So do not become a Pharisee – a legalistic, high-and-mighty, hoity-toity, “I am smarter than you and know just what you need” Christian.  Let your love and the way you graciously live out your newfound faith draw others to Him as they see something different and desirable about you.

(New stuff for this post)
            This can be a hard one when we want people to know the truth and salvation and healing that we have found.  Especially when they are people we care about.  It is hard to sit by and watch people self-destruct and turn their backs on God. 
            If this is the case, especially if they don’t want your “preaching,” the best thing you can do is just love them and spend time with them as people who you enjoy being with, instead of seeing them as “someone I must convert.”  If people think we don’t genuinely care about them for who they are, they are not going to care about what we say and think.  So just love them the way Christ loves them. 
            And pray for them!  A lot! 
            But I do not think we can pray “Lord, save so-and-so” and expect it to work.  God does not force Himself on anyone.  He does not force people to believe in Him.  He leaves that up to us.  So we cannot blame Him if our prayer of “Lord, save so-and-so” doesn’t work. 
            But we can pray that God would continue to show His love and truth to them, that He places those things right in their paths daily, that they would have eyes to see and ears to hear it, and that He would surround them with His heavenly angels to keep evil away so that they are not blinded to it.  We can pray that He brings us an opportunity to share His truth in a way and at a time that they can hear it. 
            I did this once for a friend who I had witnessed to for years but who just wasn’t ready to make a decision.  I prayed over and over that God would put the Truth clearly in her path and protect her from the diversions of Satan. 
            And one day, she called to tell me that while she was in the stall in a public restroom, she looked down on the floor and there was a pamphlet explaining the way to salvation.  She came to Christ not long after.  God works in mysterious – and amusing – ways!
            Remember, God loves them more than you ever could.  And He has been trying to get a hold of their heart their whole lives.  But they have to decide to believe in Him or not.  And you are not responsible to convert them, to change their heart.  Your responsibility is to live out your faith, to love others, to share the truth with them when the opportunity arises, to pray for them, and to obey God’s nudges as He leads.  Just do your part, let God do His, and let others be responsible for their own decisions.  This might be hard to do, but it’s just the way it is.