For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other, a fragrance from life to life. – 2 Cor 2
“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself.”
– Charles Spurgeon
Yesterday I met with a young man over some business. In his mid-30’s his achievements were by any standards, impressive. He drove a Maclaren on the weekends, and had a choice of European cars for the week. He owned 17 properties and a successful business that, should he retire tomorrow, would deliver him a residual income of $50,000 a month for at least the next decade, possibly beyond. A failed serious relationship had kept him always on the hunt, and he was intimate with a string of different beauties almost continually. He looked after himself, and drank (expensive) wine only modestly. He also played cricket to a near-professional standard and overall his day to day energy levels were quite extraordinary.
What was missing then? What do you say to someone who has everything they need, yet still seems to lack the missing ingredient? He knew about Christianity, considers himself to be an agnostic, and like many I hear, has a distorted view of the Father of the Heavenlies, and the relevance of Jesus Christ. What do you say, in the 5-minute pause in conversation, to bring things around to what is important?
In between mostly him talking, there was a pause, and I recounted a brief, simple Gospel. I must say, for 5 minutes, my guest was riveted to the conversation, and not because I was telling it. The Gospel story has enough power to stand on its own feet, with or without my delivery. How did it go?
Like many, this young man suggested that all Gods are the same, and we are highly unlikely to be held to account, after all what sort of a God would put together a world like this, when he knew we were going to fail? Frankly, a simple ‘well that’s okay God loves you’ patsy, wasn’t going to cut through. Let’s start with our sin and God’s holiness.
In our self-centred, self-righteous culture, the concept of how far we really have fallen is anathema, even to most believers. Sin, how bad can it really be we joke? We spoke of the fact that our lives are on a constant record setting, and one day we will be confronted by the reality of what we have actually done; in fact, if any of us were to take the very worst of that video of ourselves, and play it back on say, Facebook, we would likely be deeply distressed. Imagine then, how it looks before a Holy God. He seemed to get the point.
Yet then, if it is so bad and we deserve the fury of God, where does the love of God show up? The answer is in Jesus Christ and in him alone. God would not create a world where the only option was doom, a point my friend readily agreed to. Yet, we both agreed that what we had done meant that we rightly had it coming to us – and not just us.
What Jesus provides is precisely what the world misses, he is our payment or as the Bible so neatly puts it, our atonement. As we stand in the dock before God, he writes the cheque that pays the required penalty. The simple story is complete, and I hope, relevant. After that the conversation moved to more worldly things, but I didn’t mind; he was clearly disturbed.
Friends, it is all we have to do. Learn a simple Gospel presentation that can hit the mark. Don’t be put off by all these ‘do-gooder’ Christians who say we should never talk about sin, it is a complete nonsense. Sin, my sin and yours, is an intrinsic part of the story, in fact it allows God’s magnificent salvation to be set in the light. We should talk more of people’s sin, in many cases it is extremely cathartic.
And to my guest? I have done my part, now it is up to the Holy Spirit to work in ways that I cannot, and then the next person. Who knows, the next person the Spirit brings into this young man’s life might be you? If it is, make sure you share the Gospel with him.