I was having a conversation with a friend this morning and mentioned somewhat jokingly that I wished a particular person I know was a Christian. Actually, I’ve often thought that about people—mostly celebrities—I thought about what that person would be like if they knew Jesus. What baffles me even more is that in America, we often don’t have the issue of people not knowing who Jesus is. It is very rare that a person has not heard of Him, which means that at some point, the majority of people have made a decision about Jesus.
If the message of Jesus Christ is true (which I believe it is,) then by simply putting faith in Jesus Christ, believing He is the Son of God, that there is a sin problem in humanity and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection dealt with it, and that salvation comes from Him alone, one can be saved from an eternal destiny of suffering to one of extravagant joy and enjoyment of the God who created the universe, Who stands outside time and space. So who on earth would anyone reject that?
One idea is that people have been hurt by Christians and don’t believe that the church accurately represents who Jesus is. I reject this idea because it attempts to absolve oneself of the responsibility to make a decision about the Gospel by blaming the reason for their decision on someone else.
Another is that they don’t believe it to be true. They DON’T believe those doctrinal things about Jesus—that He was the Son of God, that He was sinless, born of a virgin, etc.
From this point on, I hope I say what I mean well and accurately…
I believe the opposite is true. Not the opposite of the doctrinal statements, but I think that people are afraid of what those doctrinal truths imply. For one, people don’t want to admit there’s a sin problem, because as my favorite lyricist Dustin Kensrue articulates it: the gospel comes against our pride.
I think that the reality is, people know how dangerous Jesus is. Not eternally dangerous, but He’s dangerous to our comfort. You can even see that in the Bible.
When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter into eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his posessions and follow Him. Matthew provides an important detail: the rich young ruler was sorrowful. Why? Because he had great posessions, and he had to make a choice. He would have been happy to keep his riches and follow Jesus, but he didn’t appear to be happy to choose one or the other.
In Matthew 8, Jesus outlines the costs of discipleship: that while others may be comfortable, a life with Him isn’t necessarily (He uses the example of being homeless to illustrate.) Shortly after, He casts demons out of two men, and the demons themselves beg Jesus to let them go into a herd of swine, and they then run away. They knew Jesus—the light—is dangerous to darkness. Then after that, when the town hears of the news of the two men, they beg Jesus to go away! Why? We’re not told, but I’m of the mind that He posed a threat to the way things were: the comfort and normality they enjoyed. When darkness is exposed, it is uncomfortable.
It’s a theory for the time being, and I’d welcome discussion, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Holy Spirit anoints the preaching of the Gospel, alerting the hearers to the consequences and rewards of believing it, and that people make the choice to avoid having their pride come under attack with the humbling (albeit comforting and relieving) truth of the gospel.