Hello friends, brothers and sisters. I was having a Bible study with my wife and an elderly Christian neighbor a couple of months ago on the topic of having a hard heart. Since that time, about two weeks ago to be exact, I had a stirring in my spirit. I have to admit it was uncomfortable and convicting. At first, the natural reaction is to cover it up, to justify it or even ignore it. We feel guilty and we are. If we still live in darkness (we are unsaved and under the power of sin), we want to scurry when the lights come on, rather than fess up; as if the Lord doesn’t see or know anyway. Isn’t that strange? If we, as believers, feel conviction it is a warning from the Holy Spirit urging us to confess and be made clean (1 John 1:9), and to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11).
I use that specific introduction because it brought to my mind the “heartitude” (heart attitude) of a radical Muslim’s manner of proselytizing and how, sometimes, if our heart is cold or callous, we can be or come across similarly to others. If your eyebrows just rose or you got momentarily defensive, let me explain and you’ll see what I mean.
His or her tactic- in words and in actions- amounts to “Convert or Die!” Not much of a choice and, if one utters the acceptable words or appears on the surface to alter his or her conviction, they are most certainly meant only to pacify or assuage their tormentor. Is the extremist’s motive such that he or she truly wants the other person to experience something beneficial such as forgiveness, peace, joy or everlasting life (if it were a possibility in the Muslim or any other faith)? No, not at all. His intent with the hardest, coldest, most calloused, most evil and murderous heart is to dominate, rule over, instill fear, imprison inwardly and outwardly, and to oppress the “infidel,” the unbeliever.
As Christians, we are called by the Lord Jesus Christ to make disciples (not simply converts) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Bible says we are His ambassadors, as the Lord is making His plea through us. Our motive is to be the unconditional and grace-filled love of God in Jesus which we have living in us, poured out upon others. Our main method of evangelizing others should include sharing our testimony with them; God’s power in and over us at conversion, and the wonderful, life-changing freedom, peace and joy we are experiencing as a result.
One day long ago when I used to drive forty-five minutes to an hour away on Friday nights to do jail ministry at a prison, the Lord spoke to my spirit as I was driving down the highway with words very similar to these: ‘Ken, why are you doing this with these guys? Is it because you have true compassion for them and want to see them snatched out of the fire, or is it out of a sense of obedience to Me?” What’s wrong with either one, you might be thinking. It’s the difference between the motives of the heart. Jesus often taught us valuable spiritual lessons in the form of parables in order to make them practical for everyday life. Let me try my hand at it, briefly.
“There were two Christians walking down the sidewalk. On the way to their destination, they encountered a man at a busy intersection with a sign that read: “Veteran. Homeless. Please share whatever you can. God bless you.” Both men simultaneously reach into their pockets to pull out their wallets. Both men give ten dollars and continue on their way. One man has God’s approval and one does not (much like Cain and Abel), at least not to the same degree. Why? Because one of the brothers gave out of a genuine desire, with compassion, to bless the homeless veteran. The other brother did it so his generosity could be observed by passersby (or to eliminate his guilt over not wanting to do it at all).”
If we are not careful, we can find ourselves with the wrong motive due to many things such as hardness of heart, apathy (lukewarmness), the busyness of life, distractions or mere dutiful obligation. Even if done with outwardly apparent zeal, we may be deceiving ourselves. Is our aim in sharing the Gospel based solely on the need for others to be saved from their sinful condition? Is our message perceived by the listener as only a Heaven vs. Hell mentality? Both convey a softer version of the “convert-or-die” heartitude, though the principle is the same. Or is it a tender-hearted and gracious, yet bold and courageous motivation which leads others to conviction, godly sorrow, repentance, forgiveness of sins, salvation and eternal life—not with the promises and lures of false gods and doctrines of the present age. True riches, satisfaction and fulfillment are found only through Jesus Christ.
I have fallen prey to hard-heartedness, even for a season. Have you? We don’t want people to hear the Good News and have it not take root. We want it to produce a harvest with fruit that is thirty-, sixty-, or one hundred fold. Let’s pray that we don’t unintentionally have a convert-or-die heart attitude when presenting the best news one can be given and made aware of, even if they seem to reject it. I look around and see disinterest, greed and selfishness. I hear of all the evil, atheism, agnosticism, persecution and upside-down laws being made and I am tempted to think, “Who wants to listen?” Isaiah felt the same way in chapter 53, verse one when he asked, “Who has heeded the message?” But then the Lord Jesus would not have commanded us to pray to God to send out more laborers into a ready-and-waiting harvest if it wasn’t ripe for the picking. God bless you.