“How do you point someone to a God who wants to be king of every area of your life?”
Last week we discussed how to share about Jesus with gay friends. If you did not get a chance to read the column, I suggest you consider doing so since this is a follow up. The short answer to last week’s question was that all people need to be rescued by God, not just some people, so you should treat a person who is gay the same way you should treat anyone else. The reality is that God has hard things to say to all of us. Building on last week, I want to answer the question: “How do you point someone to a God who wants to be king of every area of your life - even when it requires sacrifice?”
In the gospel of Luke, we read this: ‘And a ruler asked [Jesus], “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich (Luke 18:18-23).’”
Jesus has a way of knowing exactly what is holding you back from surrendering your heart over to God. Although this man did some of the ‘right things,’ he had an obstacle that was stopping him from loving and following God. For the man in this story, it was money. For others, it might be sex, power, influence, comfort, family, or any number of things. Were this rich young ruler to write me an Ask Pastor Bill question, it might be: “How do I worship God and still worship my money?” Jesus’ answer to him is simple. You can’t worship your money and me. If you want to follow me, then you need to stop following your money. You can’t follow two things at the same time!
Now, this doesn’t mean that in order to go to heaven you need to give away all that you own. That’s not the point. Jesus is showing the man that his wealth is holding him back from actually loving and following God internally in his heart. His money is like a weed choking out his faith. If the man wants to love God inside, and not just be religious on the outside, then he needs to turn away from what is stopping him. The bible’s term for this is repentance.
In essence, what Jesus says to this man, and to us, is that he wants to be king. He wants to sit on the throne of your heart. He wants to call the shots. He wants you to lay down everything for him if he asks you to - even your life (Luke 9:23-26).
How can you help people to get to the point where they see a God so spectacular, so breathtaking, so glorious that they will lay it all down to follow him? You can’t, but that doesn’t mean that you are powerless to do anything.
I believe that the best thing we can do is invite people to read the Bible together in order to discover who God is - not in order to have you or me teach them who he is. Do not invite them to read passages of scripture that will help you prove a point about their lives or behaviors that you think need to change. Let go of your agenda and simply desire for them to see who God is. Invite them to begin a journey of discovery to meet the God who lovingly created them and desires a relationship with them.
Encourage them as they read to ask basic questions like, “What does this teach about God? What does this teach about mankind? If this is true, how should I live in response?” In time, as God reveals himself to them, they will grow to know and love God. As they are learning to love God and obey his commands, when they are challenged by the difficult parts of the Bible, God will give them the desire to live in obedience to his teachings - even when it requires great sacrifice - because he is ultimately worthy.
The inward comes before the outward. Love leads to obedience. Discovery leads to life change. Don’t try to reverse the order.
For more information about walking someone through a journey of discovery, or if you are ready to start discovering who God is for yourself, email me at RevolveNJ@gmail.com.