Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Forcing Faith

Have you ever wanted to make someone believe in Christ? I know the feeling. Do we believe there is a heaven and there is a hell? (I do, although sometimes I wonder it I really believe it strongly enough.) If we do, it can be frustrating when we talk to people and they refuse to listen. I have passed out tracts, done the Campus Crusade thing of sharing the Four Spiritual Laws, preached at Rescue Mission services, and gotten into discussions in com-boxes of blogs, and I have encountered many interesting people. I have discussed things with determined atheists, determined members of churches whose teachings I cannot accept as Biblical, communists, and an individual who claimed Jesus was a space alien. And you start to wonder, “What can I do to get them to see the truth?”  

It is here that many seem to turn to some form of manipulation or even trickery to get people to accept what we say. The problem is that if we manipulate someone into believing, are they really believers? The Scriptures say real faith is the result of God working in someone’s heart (1 Corinthians 3:6; John 16:8-11; 6:44). (I do not wish here to open the whole can of worms of Calvinism versus Arminianism , but whether we hold salvation is our choice or God’s choice, it does not depend on the manipulation of the evangelist.) Now do not get me wrong. I am not against presenting the gospel in a persuasive manner or giving good arguments, but in the final analysis, the issue is not our clever argumentation (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-5; 2 Corinthians 2:17). We are called to be witnesses and to present what we know, but they must make their decision regarding it (Acts 1:8; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 1:16).

Another pitfall we fall into is trying to win an argument. This is because our ego becomes involved and we are more interested in proving we have the answers than leading others to the truth. But the Scripture also condemns this approach (2 Timothy 2:23-26; Colossians 4:5,6; 1 Peter 3:15). Many times this is the result of thinking it is our job to convince people. When they are not convinced, our pride kicks in.

I am writing this because I think one reason people are reluctant to share their faith is they think it is their job to make people believe in Christ. If we can reach the point of recognizing we are just the messengers and it is God’s work to convince people, for me, at least, it takes a lot of the pressure off. I think we sometimes set people up by giving them the impression that everyone will be receptive to what we have to say. They may not be, but God still calls us to be faithful in delivering the message.

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