By Lance Cordle
Various and odd instances brought me into contact with a man whose first name is Christian. He had been through some trying times and needed help. In the process of things being done, I asked some of the usual background questions and in so doing received answers which seemed to indicate a possible openness to the gospel. He is from a large family and from a different section of the country than me. He is about a year older than me and has been retired for several years. He is conscientious and does a lot of volunteer work. He also enjoys traveling to various parts of the country. When asked about church background, he replied that he was not necessarily against any sort of church affiliation, he just had never had much interest in it.
Since he was in transition, I did not have time to have a deep conversation about Jesus. I did, however, provide him with some tracts and other materials to read. I have also corresponded with another preacher about someone contacting him with the gospel.
My encounter with this man has caused me to do more thinking and pondering about people and their spiritual condition. Here is a man whose name is Christian, but he is not a Christian. How ironic! He has just quietly gone about his life for years, apparently without ever really seeing the need for Jesus in his life. As far as I know, he is not an open opponent of Jesus; he just does not have the interest. You and I might cry out, “Oh, but you really need Jesus to save you from your sins!” That is true, but until a person sees it for themselves, they will do nothing about it. We need to be open and attentive to such people.
Another matter that comes to my mind is the condition of those who call themselves Christians, but whose actions in attaining that name do not match up with scripture. I know people may shrink back with unbelief at such an assertion, but we must consider such things. For example, would you just treat a man as a “Lion” (member of the local Lions Club), who called himself a “Lion” but never paid the dues and never attended the meetings? He just acted like one. Or, how about a woman who claimed to be an alumnus of the state university, but never attended there? People may indeed act in ways consistent with the message of Christ, but not be Christians.
These things seem rather simple when broken down in illustrations like those above, but the emotionally-charged and heavily “personal” nature of modern-day religion make things so much more complicated. The fact of the matter is, evangelism can be difficult. It takes patience and a genuine concern for other people. In this, as in all things spiritual, may we remember the words of Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6 ESV).
- Lance Cordle preaches the Calvert City Church of Christ in Calvert City, KY. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.