Why Aren't More People Getting Saved?
by Melody Green
Something has really been bothering me. How come so many sinners liked Jesus—but they don't like us very much. They liked to hang out with Him. Jesus got invited to their homes for dinner, to their parties... people even hung in trees just to get a glimpse of Him—and Jesus wasn't even good looking!
Well, you might say, "But Jesus was God and we're not! He was full of charisma and anointing." True. But I think it's more than that.
Nobody preached a harder message than Jesus. Remember His eat my flesh drink my blood comments? And yet, Jesus had something we are lacking. Something we could have if we wanted—but many of us don't. Not really. I think it's called something like a compelling, compassionate love for people..
We might say we love people, but do we really? Do we really have compassion for the lost like Jesus did?
After 17 years of living in the "Bible Belt" of Texas, I moved back to California. I had been asking God for more of His heart for the lost, and California was the perfect place to go. Not that there aren't at lot of believers in California, but it's also full of people who seem proud to distance themselves from the church and from Christians. Some wear it like a badge of honor.
After being in California for awhile, and striking up conversations with lots of random people, I began to remember how I felt before I met Jesus. I didn't like Christians either. They appeared to be narrow minded, judgmental, and worst of all, lacking in true compassion. Their answers to life seemed trite and unrealistic. Their theology, prehistoric. Their pie in the sky philosophy quite frankly turned me off. In the days when I was looking for "the truth" I was positive Christians didn't have it.
Things haven't changed much since then in the minds of unbelievers. The world still thinks we're out of step with the times. Obviously, we do march to a different drum—which is for the most part, a very good thing. But some of our ideas and attitudes actually push people away from the Lord—instead of drawing them in.
I want to share one area I feel we can improve in when it comes to reaching the people around us. Jesus called us to be fishers of men; but it seems we often forget how fishing works, so I'm going to lay out a quick refresher course.
First you study the kind of fish you want to catch, figure out it's favorite thing to eat, and get bait that's hard to resist. Then you put floaters or sinkers on your line depending on what level it feeds at. Then you cast in your line and wait patiently to feel a nibble—and when you do, at the right moment you "set the hook." Then you have to reel your fish in very carefully. Often there's a big tug of war—two feet forward one foot back, two feet forward, one foot back. Big fish can take hours to reel in. Then when you're within reach of your fish, you might scoop him into a net to be sure he doesn't wiggle off the line. Even a caught fish can flop its way back into the water if you're not careful. Then you put your fish into a bucket of water to keep him fresh... and after all that effort, through each stage, you finally get to clean your fish.
But what do we do with people? We forget the process. We're usually worrying about how to clean them up before they're even caught! We want people to stop smoking, stop doing drugs, stop wearing clothes we don't like, dye their hair back from purple to brown, take the metal out of their faces, and generally clean up their act before—or shortly after—they've had an encounter with Jesus. We want a clean tidy church, clean tidy disciples, and clean tidy friends.
If Christians would have treated me this way, I don't know if I ever would have gotten saved. But I met people who put up with my ignorance, my immodesty, my bad language, and my spiritual hodge-podge theology—and reached out to me in genuine love. They saw beyond my messy exterior and looked into my heart. A heart that was hungry for God. I got loved into the kingdom, by real flesh and blood people who showed me, in practical ways, how much they cared about me. I gave my heart to Jesus because I could see Him in people who said they loved Him. I wanted to be like those people. I wanted to know the God they knew.
After Jesus really got a hold of my heart, sure I changed some things... but it took awhile. Jesus had to fully win my heart before I was willing to make big changes for Him. But sometimes we expect people to make those changes before they are fully won. We want them to "prove" they love Jesus before they're fully convinced. It's putting the cart before the horse.
One of our problems is, we want to clean our fish before we get them into the bucket. And then we wonder why they wiggle off the hook! Why they leave angry. Why they don't like us anymore. Maybe it's because they've grasped a basic principle we've forgotten. Perhaps they instinctively know that if there really is a God somewhere, He is going to care about their heart, not their hair color. This God will see their true value even when they're a mess on the outside. That's the kind of God this generation is looking for. But what kind of God are we giving them?
We need to remember that Jesus put up with all kinds of stuff—even from His own disciples. Mistakes. Arguments. Unbelief. Jealousy. I bet those guys didn't smell very good either. But Jesus loved them—and they knew it. And they followed Him at the cost of their own lives.
We forget how spiritually hungry the lost really are. We forget that they pray and cry out for help to a God they don't know. We forget how seekers think and feel. We tend to look at the outside of the cup while Jesus looks deep into the heart. We get annoyed and judgmental when people show up to church looking like they're going to a party—instead of rejoicing that they came to hear about God at all.
Why aren't more people getting saved?
Maybe the walls around the churches are as high as the walls around our hearts. Perhaps the walls are so high we can't see beyond our own little world, into the hearts and hurts of people in our communities, our schools, our work places—and yes, literally—our streets. God hears their cries. Do you?
Maybe it's easier to ignore them because if we don't it will cost us something. Maybe that's why we often choose judgment over compassion. It's safer.
Judgment distances us from people—which means we don't have to give them any part of ourselves. Compassion draws them to us—which means we need to give them some of our time and our energy and our love.
Melody Green, 2/22/2007