My husband, David, grew up Jewish. While he had a bar mitzvah when he turned 13 and celebrated significant Jewish holidays, he wasn’t very religious. Judaism to him wasn’t about following the Law, or being set apart by God to show His holy nature to the rest of the world. It was an identity – a culture – and one he embraced.
For most of David’s childhood and early adulthood, this suited him just fine. He filled his time with worldly pursuits, serving as president of his high school and going to an Ivy League college. In his twenties, he worked at the White House and prided himself on being the hardest-working guy in a place full of hard-working people. Work was his identity, and his sense of self-worth was based on how well he was doing professionally.
Everything changed for him in 2009 when he gradually began to feel something was missing in his life. Observing Christians in his new workplace in Dallas, Texas, he noticed that their identity wasn’t based on external circumstances; they seemed to be content, optimistic and hopeful regardless of what was going on around them.
At the same time, he started to realize that his sense of self-worth was based on the external. He thought perhaps he should embrace his own religion as seriously as his Christian friends embraced theirs. But he wasn’t sure where to start or what to do.
One Sunday morning a few weeks later, one of David’s friends was heading to church for Palm Sunday. David asked if he could come along, telling him half-jokingly, “I need some spirituality.”
The message delivered that morning was pivotal to bringing David to Christ. The pastor talked about how each of us hears a voice telling us that we’re a failure, and that to be loved, we must be lovable. In the Christian life, however, we hear a different voice – one that says, “You are my beloved, and on you my favor rests.”
For someone who had been struggling with his confidence being rooted in worldly circumstances, this was a powerful message that cut right to the heart. That day, David resolved to learn more about Christianity, buying a Bible and reading it cover to cover. A few months later, he accepted Christ into his heart, and his whole life changed.
David and I were co-workers at the White House and kept in contact after he moved to Texas. Back then, if you asked me if he would ever come to Christ, I would have said, “No way!” David had so much going for him – success at work, the respect and admiration of his colleagues, a great family and a good group friends. While of course I knew that David needed Jesus, I never thought he would actually recognize that need and seek Him. I couldn’t see the emptiness he felt in his heart.
I’m afraid we as believers too often make judgments regarding who we think is ripe to hear the gospel. We sometimes think the only people who’ll be open to listening are those with obvious brokenness. If someone has a good life and seems fulfilled, we shy away from sharing the good news, believing they wouldn’t care to hear about Jesus.
I shudder thinking how many other co-workers and friends in the past I didn’t share Jesus with because I thought they appeared content, or in other cases, seemed to have too hard of a heart. Embarrassingly and sadly, I still find myself judging unbelievers in this way.
The truth is that every single person needs Jesus. He is the one true God, the only one who can satisfy our deepest longings, the only one who can save. He is powerful to reach those who we, with our limited capacity and know-it-all attitudes, sometimes classify as “unreachable” or “uninterested.”
We are not God and don’t know people’s hearts; I bet we would be surprised that the people seeking the hardest are those we would least expect. We are God’s workmanship and are called to boldly proclaim our faith in Jesus and to make disciples of everyone (Matthew 28:19) regardless of whether we think they are currently looking for God.
One of the easiest ways to share Christ is to invite our friends to church. You never know: someone who you’d least expect to be receptive might, in reality, “need some spirituality” like my David did. And their whole lives – both on earth and in eternity – could be transformed by the power of the truth they’ll hear.
“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'” Romans 10:14-15