The Apostle Paul was a Jesus ignorer. Have we thought of this enough? Have we thought of this in relation to those around us who do not yet put their hope in Jesus both in this life and for the next life? It’s easy to ignore the ones we should be loving, right? It’s easiest to walk in shadows and prefer anonymity and creature comforts. Yet, as we go through life, there are people to be encountered and there is love to be shown. God set things up so creatively and beautifully to where we come to receive the most joy when we give more and more love and grace to those we encounter, particularly those with real and deep needs.
Anyone who has tasted and seen the deep joys available in a daily loving relationship with God in His Word and Spirit and in response to the death and life of Jesus Christ… Anyone who fits this description but then chooses to oppose God and live in open sin… Anyone fitting this description is most to be wept and pleaded for in prayer. Anyone fitting this description is living in the most damnable state I could imagine and anyone could imagine, I’m sure of it. You’ve known how good God is to His children and you’ve known His tender love, and yet you are openly speaking against this very same God, and claiming He is cruel and unworthy of your affection. Many in this place take up either an argument that dances with the traditional “problem of evil” or you lean toward drowning out conscience with some form of humanism. I’ve long been one who leans toward a “once saved always saved” theology from my reading of God’s Word and from asking those older and wiser than me for their counsel. However, apostasy is a real doctrine and is very allowable when reading God’s Word, though less frequent in the New Testament. And, if you’ve read much of my writing at all, I’ll lean toward a “kill ’em with kindness” general philosophy on evangelism. It is the professing believer I am most concerned with when it comes to ignoring Jesus.
Now, regarding unbelieving family, friends, and community contacts, are we having compassion on them/you? Are you, dear unbelieving reader, considering your ignoring of Jesus? Are you offended when reading about Paul in 1 Timothy 1-3 and how he says he was in ignorance prior to becoming a follower of Jesus Christ? Do you get offended when a Christian communicates with bold confidence that he/she knows The Way, The Truth, and The Life in Jesus Christ? I get it. I’ve been in a lot of conversations with non-believers or near-believers about this. It appears that believers are being arrogant, and unfortunately it does come across arrogantly at times. It is important to remember that day-in and day-out believers in Jesus are not “professional Christians” trying to convince people of a religion for weak minds. Christians are simply normal people caught off guard by the wonder of Jesus’ death for them!
At some point, whether in an instant or over a season of consideration, every believer is faced with the death of Jesus, and that death becomes personal to them. They feel it and know it was their own death. It becomes recognizable as the death they fear, not physical but eternal. It isn’t that this is fully or deeply thought through and reasoned out in some deep philosophical sense. Instead it is a spiritual awakening, a awe-struck moment of both sorrow for the Savior’s suffering and a seeding of hope for the sinner’s future.
My prayer this afternoon as I finish up my lunch-break musings is that followers of Jesus would have compassion on those who are genuinely not professing to be followers of Jesus, those who do not profess Jesus as their ALL-IN-ALL and source of eternal pleasure and purpose. May we pray over believers who fit in the “nominal Christian” camp or those who are completely opposing the God Who came and died in their place. Just as importantly, however, may we pray earnestly for any who openly or in private moments of honestly can look themselves in the mirror and admit that Jesus to them isn’t Someone they are ready to acknowledge. May we pray for those who ignore Jesus and choose self for their definition. May the love of Christ define our behavior and then our words as we show humility and consistent grace to those we as believers encounter day-in and day-out.
Jesus, You are all-satisfying and worthy, worthy, so worthy of our full devotion!