Most of us have friends, or even a best friend who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Christ, even if that friend does attend church. The focus of sharing about salvation often seems to become a race to find, fund and travel to a “New Missions Trip.”
Whether that mission is simply traveling to the closest city and preaching to skid-row residents, the homeless or perhaps to an unreached population in another country is sometimes deemed to be irrelevant as long as we’re reaching out and moving in a ministry of salvation.
Those ministries aren’t wrong at all; they are absolutely necessary in the larger scheme of reaching all the nations, and all the people who are hungry for the answers only Christ is capable of providing. Is it possible, however, to miss those who are closest to us, simply because they are so close? Could this be another instance of where the trees are making it impossible to see the forest?
The Great Commission says:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. —Matthew 28:16-20, KJV
In that simple statement, Christ gave each of us throughout our lives a task to complete to the best of our ability. Save the unsaved. And then another piece of the task is offered by Christ through the Apostle Luke.
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. —Luke 24:46-48, KJV
Notice in this passage, the need to begin in Jerusalem, not in Asia, or Samaria, but in Jerusalem. It’s as if when He came back to show those who had followed Him, and who were still having trouble trying to believe in His resurrection, they should continue what Christ began.
Christ wants all of us saved––it is His desire that none should perish, but all should have everlasting life, and it begins where we are. Should we place our comfort level above the desire of The Father and His Son? Never.
Yes, it is hard to proselytize our friends––it can be uncomfortable; it can even place us at risk of losing a friend! Better though, that we lose a friend than our friend lose eternity. And it need not even be that big a risk, if we take on the task as one, which isn’t based on beating our friends with a Bible, but is instead one of providing a daily witness of what it is to walk in the love and forgiveness of Christ.
In our daily witness there will come the day when our closest friend is puzzled about why we have the joy they are so hungry for and can’t quite achieve. It’s at that time, when our witness prompts the question, that we have the chance to offer the real solution to the emptiness of chasing an empty world.