I read a quote by rock musician Frank Zappa this morning on Facebook that sums up how a lot of people feel about religion. Zappa said, “Anybody who wants religion is welcome to it, as far as I’m concerned–I support your right to enjoy it. However, I would appreciate it if you exhibited more respect for the rights of those people who do not wish to share your dogma, rapture, or necrodestination.”
I actually thought it was a pretty good quote. Polite but to the point. But Zappa, like many other people, misunderstand why Christians share the gospel and I believe if they understood the reason they would be less offended and may even be thankful whether they accept the message or not.
As Christians, we share the gospel of Jesus Christ because we love you.
That’s it. It’s the only motivating factor.
You see, we don’t get points for every person the comes to Christ through our evangelism. Sharing the gospel doesn’t affect our salvation or our place in Heaven. We share the gospel because when we came to Christ, the Holy Spirit changed us in such a way that we actually love all of God’s creation as He does and we want others to have what we have!
I have a friend that can be pretty antagonistic to Christianity. His argument is the classic, “If your God is a loving God, why does He send people to Hell?” Like Zappa and all those who are not Christians, they really don’t understand our faith, our motivation, and our love for them.
Christians really believe that everyone is eternal and that it is our choice how we spend eternity. We can choose to spend it with a loving God in eternal bliss or we can choose to spend it eternally separated from that loving God. It is our choice – God does not choose for us nor does He send anyone anywhere. We choose.
Thus, because we love everyone who is created in God’s image we want everyone to spend that eternity with us and Jesus! God Himself says He wants none to be separated from Him (2 Peter 3:9).
I will admit, however, there are some in the faith who don’t do as good a job showing love as they could. Instead of telling people that they love them, which is why they are sharing Jesus with them, some resort to the old “carrot and stick” method of “accept Jesus or go to Hell.” I’m not sure that is a persuasive argument for those outside the faith. In fact, I can see that such an approach would cause people to push back against our faith.
I get that accepting Jesus can be a hard step because you have to admit that you have sin in your life and that you need a savior to reconcile yourself to God. My antagonistic friend completely rejects the idea of sin, which in turn means he doesn’t feel the need to be saved. Luckily, it’s not our job as Christians to point out everyone’s sin; it’s our job as Christians to love people and share Jesus with them. The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts the world of sin – I let Him do His job and I do mine.
Zappa is dead, but if I had had a chance to talk with him, I would have told him that while I respect his position, he really doesn’t know my God who loves him more than he can imagine. In fact, Jesus loves him so much that He died for him so they could be together forever. Lastly, I would tell him that I love him, too, and that wouldn’t it be cool to spend eternity together with people in perfect relationship forever? Then we’d sing “Dancin’ Fool” together!
Scripture is really clear that as Christians we are to be so attractive in how we live our lives that others are drawn to our “light.” For me, that means being authentic, transparent, vulnerable, and sharing the love of Jesus with everyone I meet.
So, if you’re not a believer and you run into me I’ll apologize now for making you just a bit uncomfortable by showing you how much our God loves you in the hopes that you won’t misunderstand who Jesus is and why He’s pursuing you!
Sharing the gospel out of love is truly a profound motivator, one that some unbelievers (in my experience) can often appreciate even if they do not receive the message. But there is another motivator appreciated only by the believer in Christ and one that should lay at the heart of our desire to share the good news of salvation. 1 John 2:12 tells us our sins are forgiven “for his name’s sake”; that the forgiveness we have has come to us so His name can be glorified. What greater motivator can we have than to be used of the Lord to add to the company of those who will bring praise to His name for ever?