“I will be in them and you will be in me. So they will be completely one. Then the world will know that you sent me. And the world will know that you loved these people the same as you loved me.”
–Christ, as recorded in John 17:23 (bolding and italics added)
There’s a world outside our church doors that is literally dying to know Jesus. It just doesn’t know it.
What’s more, Jesus died so that they could.
For years, my desire to evangelize was very people-driven. I felt sorry for those who didn’t have peace about eternity as well as those who faced the trials of this life without the comfort of knowing that Someone loving, Someone all-powerful, Someone wise was in control.
I ached for those who thought the burden of redemption rested on their own shoulders. It’s clearly too heavy a weight for any human to bear. Out of compassion, I wanted them to know the freedom they could have in a life surrendered to Christ.
But one day I finally considered the other side of that equation. While people are desperate without God, He is longing for them! I thoughtIwanted them to have peace about eternity? He does so much more so! I wished for them the solace of knowing the Almighty God had their backs? He died to prove it!
From that “aha!” moment, my attempts to share Christ’s love have looked quite different. I share the gospel—not out of pity for my fellow man—but with a desire to bring joy to my Father God. I try to communicate the incredible, searching love of God, fully convinced He’s pursuing the person I’m talking to. It is the purpose for our time here on earth: to pursue Christ and to encourage others to, as well.
And like a secret recipe, John 17:23 spells out for us exactly how to do that…how to persuade the world that Jesus really is our Savior.
It doesn’t mention a specific tract or a set of Scriptures (though both clearly have their place). Instead, it says that they way to win others to Christ, the way to prove to them that Jesus is the Son of God is…wait for it…to get along!
Yep. According to the gospel of John, the most effective way to convince people that we follow the true Son of God is to be one. To be unified. Not to argue and quibble, but to come alongside one another, bear one another’s burdens and be at peace with one another.
Now, let’s admit it. That’s a tall order.
Sometimes personalities just don’t mix well. Sometimes feelings are hurt. Sometimes rifts occur that seem impossible to heal.
But, we are told in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (NIV).
Sadly, we can’t control others and how they’ll respond, especially after a conflict has taken place. But we do have to do our best, give our every effort toward reconciliation. That’s the mark of a true disciple.
In a world where people are shot over quarrels, where bombs are detonated in the name of religion, where hate speech is common place and evil appears to prevail, unity is elusive. People of peace stand out.
So, if we’re serious about bringing others to Christ, we need to be serious about preventing and resolving conflict with one another. Because being different, responding in love, caring for one another allows the world to know that Christ, the One we claim, is the real deal.
And the world is dying to know. What’s more, Jesus died so that they could.