Reaching Out to the Lost

November 8, 2022

I heard someone say recently that they used to teach that if you don’t baptize at least one other person, you “can’t go to heaven.”  I was appalled at the statement, and thankfully the one who made it had come to recognize his error.  We need to be careful about making pronouncements that the Lord Himself never made.  We need to be careful about binding things on people that the Lord never bound.  We can create feelings of unnecessary guilt in people about evangelistic outreach.  Some will think, “I am not a teacher,” or “I don’t know what to say or how to say it,” or “I am not good with words,” and therefore they feel guilty and inadequate.  The truth is we are not all teachers!  We are not all evangelists!  God gave some as evangelists and teachers (see Ephesians 4:11).  If you’re not sure exactly what to say to lead someone to Christ, that is okay!  You can still have a profound impact for the gospel.

Paul writes to the church at Colossae about reaching out to the lost and says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word…that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.  Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity.  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” (Colossians 4:2-6 NAS95) This is how we can all have a hand in reaching the lost.  Be devoted to prayer.  Pray for God to open up opportunities for the word.  Live a life of wisdom around those who are outside of Christ.  Look for opportunities to speak with grace to others.  These things have a powerful impact on leading people to Christ.

Of course, if anyone is going to be saved, the gospel of Jesus Christ must be taught and understood.  The gospel is the power of God for salvation, and it must be proclaimed.  We all have different, essential functions in the body of Christ, and God has given some the ability to teach and proclaim the gospel message.  If you know of someone who might be open to hearing, but you’re uncomfortable leading a study, reach out to another member of the body.  God can accomplish much in us if we will work together as a unit.  May we all continue to look for opportunities to reach people with the saving message about Jesus.

—Scott Colvin

The One Who Hears, The One Who Rejects

March 9, 2018

Jesus is very up front with the possibility of rejection as we share the gospel (as well as the possibility of gaining a hearing). Notice Luke 10:16: “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (ESV). See also Matthew 10:40, Mark 9:37, Luke 9:47-48, and John 13:20.

The truth is none of us like to be rejected. It is a deep seated human fear. Maybe that is the reason Jesus addresses the issue so directly. How are we to muster the courage to say a good word for Jesus if we face rejection when we do?

First, these sayings take the focus off us. It is important to ponder this, because it can help us be courageous. If we are rejected in our efforts to the share the faith, we must remember that the rejection is not just of us, it is a rejection of Jesus, and it is a rejection of the Father who sent Jesus. Rejecting me is trivial. I’m one person in 7.6 billion. Rejecting Jesus and the Father is not trivial at all. Yet, the purpose of this life is making a decision about God, the creator. Being confronted with this decision is the most important matter in life whether we like it or not. We can’t control another’s decision, but we can provide the opportunity to choose.

Second, the fear of rejection coincides with not feeling accepted. The Christian, of all people in the world, should feel love and acceptance. “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God has demonstrated his love for us by sending his only Son into the world to be the propitiation for our sins. Because of God’s love for us, Christians are commanded to love one another. Christian community (i.e., the church) should provide for us love and acceptance. The church is the family of God. Fellow Christians are my brothers and sisters in Christ. If my identity is formed around this, I don’t go out into the world wondering whether I belong or am accepted. I should know something of community as God intends it to be. And this acceptance should help me conquer my fear of rejection, because I know a community that everyone should have the opportunity to experience.

Third, we don’t know a person’s response until the message is shared. I’ve met atheists, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus who have become Christians. When you hear their life stories, it is amazing. We might even be tempted to think: I never would have suspected that they would respond to the gospel. And that is exactly the point: we don’t know a person’s response until the message is shared. The decision is for them to make not me.

Further, an initial rejection by someone may not be the last word in this person’s life. Experience teaches that it may take many encounters before a person begins to give serious thought to the gospel. Maybe your encounter with this person is encounter number one. You’ve planted a seed. Others may encourage this person, and maybe on the seventh encounter the person becomes open to study and conversion. Someone planted, another reaped, but every Christian who touched this person’s life had a role in sharing the gospel. Remember that an initial rejection may not be the last word. Maybe it is the first encounter that will lead to a changed life in time.