But none is more urgent than people’s need for Jesus Christ. All around us, people are dying without Christ. We have the answer, the Gospel of God’s grace. Will we do what it takes to bring the Good News to those who are lost?
A man once wrote to me that he had been raised in a non-Christian religion, but had turned away from that faith at age 16 and had put his trust in himself. “For the next 17 years, I ran from God’s knocking on my heart,” the man said. “In all that time, not one person told me that Jesus loved me. I wish that someone had been bold enough to tell me of the truth of salvation.”
Imagine. For all those years, this man never heard the message of salvation. Did he live on some remote island? Had he spent those years in a country where the teaching of the Bible was prohibited? Believe it or not, this was a successful businessman in the United States. Fortunately, he did finally hear the Gospel and he accepted Christ as His Savior.
This story should awaken all of us out of our complacency in telling others the Good News.
Do we really believe what we claim to believe? Do we really believe in a literal heaven and a literal hell? Do we really believe that the wages of sin is death? If we do, how can we be so casual about telling others about Jesus?
Our biggest problem in the church today is that we lack compassion. Many of us simply don’t care. My experience as a pastor of more than 30 years has shown me that most Christians have never led another person to Christ. It’s not that we never tell others about our faith, but very few of us ever come right out and invite a nonbeliever to make a commitment to Christ.
The Cure for Sin
Suppose you were to discover a cure for cancer. You wouldn’t keep that information to yourself. You would take your discovery to people who are terminally ill. We have the cure to something bigger than cancer. We have the cure to sin!
We have the hope of eternal life. We can’t keep that hope to ourselves. We need to tell it. It may make people uncomfortable. It may make them respond negatively toward us, but isn’t it better for them to be uncomfortable for a little while than to be separated from God for all eternity?
The great British preacher C.H. Spurgeon said, “Sinners are dying; every hour hurries a company of them into eternity. They are carried away as with a flood, they fall like grass before the mower’s scythe. And where do they go? Alas, we know, but how little do we consider. They are driven from the presence of God and from all hope of restoration. … The main object of all Christian work should be that sinners may be converted unto God.”
A Call for Compassion
We need to ask God to burden us for people who do not know Jesus Christ. We must care.
Jesus told His disciples to pray that God would send laborers to the harvest fields, but look at what preceded that command: “When He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest’” (Matthew 9:36-38, NKJV).
How unlike our response to the people we meet who are without Christ. Some appear to have it all together, so we may not even think to tell them about the Gospel message. We must not forget that underneath many calm exteriors are people who are falling apart, desperately needing God. Others are living in blatant sin, and we may think they are too far gone for Christ’s saving grace. Yet, behind each sinful act is an empty, searching lost person who is loved deeply and tenderly by God.
Jesus always saw a person’s need, and He had compassion. When He met the Samaritan woman at the well, He looked beyond her sin and saw her spiritual emptiness, and He appealed to her longing for God.
When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, the tax collector who had climbed a tree to catch a glimpse of Him, He didn’t rebuke Zacchaeus for his sins. Jesus separated the sin from the sinner and went to Zacchaeus’ home as his guest. There He led Zacchaeus to salvation.
Jesus cared about these people. If we want to be used by God in any capacity to win others to Christ, caring about people must be our motivation. Not obligation. Not duty. Not guilt, but a God-given burden for the souls of lost people.
Compassion and Boldness
Perhaps you have compassion for people, but you feel unqualified to tell them about Jesus. You think, “That’s a job for preachers. I’m just an ordinary person.” But God wants to use you–right where you are. You can reach many people far more effectively than a preacher because they know you. They work with you. They live next door to you. They see you day in and day out, and they will listen to you. These are the people to whom God has called you right now.
Jesus did not tell us to pray that we would have more observers in His harvest–or more spectators or more complainers. He asked us to pray for more laborers. And we must be willing to be the answer to that prayer.
Sometimes it feels like the church can be compared to a football game, with 60,000 people in the grandstands watching 22 people on the field do all the work. We sit on the sidelines and say, “Go, team, go!”
But God says, “I want you down on that field. I want you to be a part of what I am doing.”
I encourage you: get in the game. Ask God to give you the compassion and the boldness you need to tell the people around you the truth that will set them free.
Greg Laurie is Senior Pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship, in Riverside, Calif.