Over the long weekend, I was thinking about what brings a person to the point of decision to follow Christ abandoning his or her self-directed life. I'm sure there are a lot of reasons, but three come to mind as being the main reasons people fully turn their lives over to God:
When a person is faced with the end of their life through a terminal disease or an overwhelming fear of the hereafter, the individual is usually open to discussions about God's love and how to get into Heaven. No one wants to fry when they die, and many atheists have reconsidered their belief (or lack thereof) on their death bed.
Another reason that brings people to a new openness to the Gospel is when they find their life has no meaning or their life is going nowhere. Everyone wants to leave their mark on the world and feel significant, and many begin a soulful search. I've got a friend who's in this situation right now. I met him years ago and he was not open to the Gospel. Over the weekend, we were at his home for dinner and he asked if we could pause before the meal so he could thank God for the food we were about to eat. I nearly fell out of my chair during the heartfelt prayer I was so excited for him.
The third reason people will reach out to God for salvation is because they fully realize they need a Savior. In other words, they're fully in touch with their own wretchedness and sinful nature. Think of it this way... when you're drowning (and you know you're drowning) and someone throws you a rope, you don't examine the color of the rope or even the person on the other end attempting to save you. You're just thankful a rope appeared and you grab it.
If your non-Christian friend has not been diagnosed with stage four cancer or isn't pondering the afterlife or maintains a fear of it, they probably won't be all that interested in your beliefs of Heaven, which you've never personally experienced as of yet. You should ask them if they ever think about what happens after death to find out though. I've asked my lost friends about this and some have no idea, some don't care, some have whacky thoughts about what happens, and most then ask me why I asked. I simply reply, "Just wondering, that's all. We've never talked about it before." Unless they ask me to share my beliefs, I keep it to myself and let the Holy Spirit do his work. And he always does his work and never gives up on any soul.
If your non-Christian friend is not discussing their destiny, making their mark on the world, leaving a healthy legacy, and seems satisfied with the pursuit of wealth and possessions, you probably aren't going to make any spiritual headway by talking about the importance of a Christ-directed life. This does not mean that you can't share how fulfilling it is to serve others with Christ's love and partnering with God to do things that are making a difference in the world. You can also intercede for the person to discover a new level of life dissatisfaction with life and his or her current pursuits. Once again, sharing your own spiritual destiny building activities and prayer allow the Holy Spirit to do his work within your friend's heart and mind.
If your non-Christian friend does not think they need a savior, talking to them about Jesus dying on the cross so they could be saved is not going to be interesting or attractive to the person. However, if you are humble enough to talk of your own strong sense of depravity as a born-again Christian who is as thankful for Jesus' death on the cross today as you were when you made your decision for Christ, that may cause your lost friend to stop and think. Once again, the Holy Spirit starts working.
Your message of hope must be appropriate to the person hearing that message. Consider your lost friends and what to talk about when you're around them and you'll see spiritual movement!
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