When Agamemnon came to invade Troy with Achilles and the rest of his armies, mankind witnessed a display of physicality and athleticism unrivaled in the rest of human history. That all changed with the advent of Sunday Night Lights. Frisbees, footballs, soccer balls, and human bodies fly around in a mad flurry of activity and Pure. Unbridled. Athleticism. If you are interested in having your brain melted by the coordination and explosive muscle flexing of SingleLife’s finest warrior/athletes, then come this Sunday, September 7, to Sunday Night Lights at 6:30 pm. Some of you may be asking, “aren’t you underestimating the athletic ability of SingleLife?” Well, you might be right. I once saw Kyle Bates eat 14 Chipotle burritos before dunking over Dikembe Mutombo. But that is neither here nor there, just come to Sunday Night Lights and allow your life to be changed!
I think I am fairly safe in assuming that humans throughout history have shared a universal desire for purpose and meaning. Whether explicitly or subconsciously, questions like ‘Who am I?’, ‘Why am I here?’, and ‘What am I supposed to be doing?’ have filled the minds of all humans. Different answers have been offered to these questions by many great minds: Nietzsche said that when it comes to life’s questions, it’s all about power, Freud said that it’s all about sex, and Ke$ha says that it’s all about glitter. Christians traditionally answer these questions by saying that human purpose comes from the will of God. This answer leads us to another set of monumental questions which boil down to this thought: how can I know God’s will, and how does it apply to me? To differing degrees, most Christians struggle with this question and grapple to understand God’s will.
Certainly, it is good for a Christian to desire a clear understanding of God’s direction and will, but sometimes the obsession to find God’s specific will regarding every life event can get out of hand. So if you really desire to know God’s will for your life, here are some helpful hints that (I believe) will point you in the correct direction.
God’s will for your life is not a blueprint.
It’s easy to imagine God’s will for your life looking like an architect’s blueprint for a new building, providing a detailed chronology of what your life ought to look like. An architect details where load-bearing beams, floor plans for individual rooms, and all other kinds of detailed minutia must go together perfectly in order for the building to function according to plan. In the same way, you might make make the assumption that God’s will for your life details that you must go on your first date when you are 16, get married at 24, and find your dream career by 32. Allow me to burst your bubble, because God’s will for your life has less to do with timing and events than it has to do with the kind of person you are becoming, which leads to my next point.
God’s will for your life is that you become like Jesus.
We have established that it’s easy to get caught up imagining the kinds of things God might be planning for your future: job, spouse, kids, promotions, house, etc. Don’t let this emphasis keep you from becoming the kind of person that you were created to be. God’s will is that you become like Christ. The apostle Paul hits on this concept with regularity. “Imitate me, as I imitate Christ.” “Follow God’s example… and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
One of the high points of New Testament theology comes in Philippians chapter 2, where Paul seeks to help the Christians in Philippi understand how they ought to behave in the Church and in the world. He tells them, ‘have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,’ and he goes on to beautifully explain how Jesus gave up the fullness of Heaven and equality with God in order to humble himself and sacrificially give His life out of obedience to the Father and out of love for His people. If you have questions about what God wants you to do with your life, then look no further than the standard set by Jesus. God’s will for your life includes His desire for you to love Him and to sacrificially love others, just as Jesus taught and showed us.
God’s will for your life is for you to know Him.
Looking through the big picture, meta-story of the Bible, we see God progressively revealing Himself to humans. From beginning to end, God is in the business of pointing humans toward the knowledge of His life and what He is doing in the universe. Christians believe that God is a fundamentally relational being, and as creatures made in His image, we all possess an innate ache for community and relationships. Ultimately, this need can only be fulfilled by knowing the God who created us in His image. Just like He did for Adam and Eve when they hid in the garden after sinning for the first time, God constantly seeks us out, and He in turn wants us to seek Him as well.
There are two telling passages in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 4:28-29; Jeremiah 29) when God says the same thing while addressing Israel’s response to hardships that sprung up from their own idolatry. In both instances, He tells them “You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.” God created you so that you might know Him and be known by Him. Behind the questions ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Why am I here?’, there is an existential desire to be known and to be understood. God already knows and understands you, but you can never experience the joy of this truth until you begin to know God firsthand. The first step in this process comes when you choose to seek Him with all your heart. If you want to find God, and consequently find His will for your life, then you need to seek Him.
If you find yourself mentally grappling and wrestling with the same questions over and again, yet you still feel like you can’t find God’s will for your life, then perhaps focusing on these basic things that you know God desires for your life will set you in the right direction. Finding God’s specific will for your life proves to be a remarkably difficult task when you are ignoring His general will for your life. Seek to know God, imitate Christ, and the rest will be revealed to you in time.
 1 Corinthians 11:1
 Ephesians 5:1-2
Few things evoke as much passion in humans as their political and religious convictions. If you want to get someone agitated, then just start talking with them about God or the president. In most cases, these are the arenas in which you will see people become passionate and argumentative. However, if these topics do not manage to stir someone up, then loudly say ‘Nickelback is awesome,’ and the other person will correctly become very angry and disagree with you. This might be a cheap shot, but seriously, Nickelback is an abomination to music.
For those of us who claim to be Christians, our religious convictions are (hopefully) shaped by Jesus. Unfortunately, agreement about Jesus does not always translate to agreement in the realm of politics. In fact, Christians disagree wildly about the political direction that their respective countries ought to follow. This leaves many Christians asking questions like ‘how much should I be involved in politics?’ and ‘whose side should I take?’
Here are a few principles that might give you a helpful place to start.
1) It’s okay to disagree.
You are not likely to hear many people who are passionate about their political convictions say that it’s okay to disagree. Quite the contrary, many people will probably make judgments about your character based on your politics. However, I can assure you that your salvation does not depend on which (if any) political party you support. If someone else does not have political opinions that mirror yours, it does not necessarily make them your enemy. Commit to listen and learn from people with whom you disagree, and even if you don’t reach a resolution through your interactions, you will likely understand your own position better.
2) Let Scripture inform your political opinions.
I admit that this concept is not as easy as it sounds on paper. It’s easy to say, ‘vote the Bible and everything will get better,’ but things become difficult when we realize that two people can read the same Bible and come to wildly different conclusions about how it speaks to contemporary politics. In spite of this, it is still important that we look to Scripture to inform the way we understand the world and how we should live within it.
One more piece of advice on this matter: it is good to look at the entire breadth of Scripture when forming political opinions. Look at Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s instruction in the Epistles on how to behave in public and private life, the prophets’ berating of corrupt leaders who promote idolatry and oppress the poor, and the cryptic message of Revelation that calls us never to place our trust an any empire, no matter how powerful or competent it looks. Just as with any other issue, hyper-focusing on one text to the exclusion of others can lead you to develop some crazy political opinions.
3) Remember that your primary allegiance is to the Kingdom of God.
When it comes to political convictions, there are lots of things that demand our allegiance. As children, we are taught to pledge allegiance to our flag and to our country. We grow older, and some people begin to pledge allegiance to a simplistic, idealized picture of the United States as (they imagine) the founding fathers envisioned it, while others pledge allegiance to a vague idea of progress that suggests we will get better as we move forward into the future.
I don’t know where you fall in this spectrum, but if you are a Christian, your primary allegiance should not be to any country or flag, but to Christ and the Kingdom of God. God’s Kingdom is a place where those who are poor, weak, hungry, and suffering are elevated to a place of prestige. God’s Kingdom heals the fundamental heart issues that lead one man to sin against another. Forgive me if I am interpreting human history incorrectly, but I strongly believe that human kingdoms and governments are only capable of healing (and sometimes adding to) the symptoms that come as a result of human sin (poverty, war, injustice, etc.). Don’t let your passion for a political movement overpower your commitment to seeing God’s Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.
4) Stop overreacting.
This may very well be the biggest problem with political discourse in the United States: everybody is overreacting to somebody else. To be fair, this isn’t only the case with politics. Reacting to other people is a basic human tendency. Reacting to something or someone else is not in itself a terrible thing, but when every political disagreement becomes interpreted as a ground-shifting, uncrossable chasm, it is safe to assume that there might be a lack of sensibility among the parties involved. I admit that I am no political science expert, but anecdotal evidence does seem to indicate that our political system is more chronically polarized than at any other point in our history.
Let’s not get caught up in the sensationalized rhetoric of congress or 24 hour news organizations. For the love of all that is holy, please do everything in your power to make your political opinions as grounded and non-reactionary as possible.
5) Don’t treat political enemies in a way that misrepresents Jesus.
This principle overlaps with number 4, and it might be the most important one on the list, because the way Christians treat others will be the primary catalyst that forms people’s opinion about Jesus. Common American practice dictates that we skewer our political enemies over a fire and tell them that they deserve to suffer; however, Jesus seems to take a different approach. He said this, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44).
This sentiment of loving enemies is not some anomaly in Jesus’ teaching. Quite the contrary, it encompasses one of the pillars of what it means to live in God’s new Kingdom that is coming to Earth. I’m not telling you to view all political stances and convictions as equal, I’m only asking that you learn to love your enemies and pray for those with whom you disagree. Even for those who hold political convictions that we view to be immoral, repugnant, and destructive, perhaps our message to them should shift from ‘That person is the scum of the Earth’ to ‘Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.’ That should be a helpful place to start. Now scroll back through your political tirades on Facebook and tell me: how are you doing at loving your enemies?
In perhaps the greatest display of athletic effort in the history of mankind, dozens of SingleLifers gathered to play ultimate Frisbee, soccer, and football at the last Sunday Night Lights. Discs were hurled, balls were kicked, water was consumed, and it. was. glorious. Some of you may lament: “how could I have missed such an awe-inspiring display of athletic prowess and mental fortitude?” You are correct to mourn, but let not your hearts be troubled, because we are having another rendition of Sunday Night Lights on August 3rd at 6:30 pm! Bring your competitive will, bring your sporting desire, bring your pent up anger at your high school coach; just don’t bring your whiny pants or your Nickelback CD. See you next weekend!
Do you enjoy running through an open field with reckless abandon? Do you enjoy hurling discs of fury to your friends as they sprint on the grass with the free spirit of a child at recess? Do you think that water is a natural resource that you cannot live without? Were you the guy or girl that always got way too excited whenever the song ‘Sandstorm’ came on at your high school dances?
If you answered yes or no to any of the previous questions, then I strongly suggest that you come join us for Sunday Night Lights THIS Sunday, July 13 at 6:30pm. There will be a dynamic combination of ultimate Frisbee (and other sports), water, friendship, and soul stirring music that could (if properly channeled) rip open the fabric of the space/time continuum. That might have been a slight exaggeration, but it does not change the fact that Sunday Night Lights is going to be awesome. Come join us and get ready to play sports and hang out with some great people.
At the very center of Christian identity is a single theme, or more accurately, a single person: Jesus Christ. Christians for the past 2000 years have held in common the central emphasis on this one personality. The reason for this comes from the belief that when we look at Jesus—who He is and what He did—we are looking into the very heart of God. In fact, belief regarding Jesus is the determining factor in discerning who and what should be considered Christian. Orthodox Christian belief requires that one understand Jesus as being fully divine and fully human. The fullness of humanity and the fullness of divinity somehow packed into one person who embodies the culmination of God’s work in human history; this is Jesus Christ.
So if I am going to be a Christian, what must I do with Jesus? This is the correct question to ask at this juncture, and its answer is both simple to grasp and difficult to execute. Many people assume that what one must do in order to be a Christian is agree with the correct set of doctrinal beliefs regarding Jesus. This is an understandable thought process when we consider how much Jesus talked about belief during His ministry, but when we examine the gospels, this doesn’t seem to give us the complete picture of what it looks like to know Jesus.
Take, for example, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He began by calling twelve men to be His trainees, His disciples. These men (other than Judas) went on to become the pillars of Christianity, the apostles who provided the backbone of the early Church. When Jesus went to these men, He did not require that they agree to key doctrinal points. “Do you believe that I am the Messiah? What about my birth of a virgin woman, do you believe that too? What about me being the Son of God? You definitely have to believe that to be my disciple!” Jesus did no such thing. Instead, He approached the disciples with a simple command/request, ‘Come, follow me.’ The twelve that Jesus selected were in different trades and social circles: fishermen, tax collectors, revolutionaries, and others. Jesus’ call to these men was to drop what they were doing and follow Him with their lives. He said as much when He spoke to two fishermen (Peter and Andrew), saying ‘follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ Jesus acknowledged their previous life, and hinted that He would make them into a different type of fishermen. Jesus’ command ‘follow me’ isn’t complicated, but it is difficult.
So how do I follow Jesus now? Again, another good question. For the disciples, following Jesus was fairly straightforward; it meant dropping what they were doing and spending the next three years walking around and learning from Jesus. In those three years, Jesus set a foundation that would reorient the way these men lived, and ultimately it altered the destiny of each one. For those of us in the 21st century, I would argue that following Jesus means something rather similar to the disciples. It means actively surrendering our lives to Jesus and following wherever He leads. In order to be a Christian, you must forfeit whatever life you had planned for yourself, and let your life be shaped by God’s specific call for you. Yes, this means intellectual belief in Jesus, but more than that, it means belief to the point of surrender. It does not mean having perfect knowledge about Jesus and the Father, otherwise we would all be disqualified (the disciples were more or less clueless about Jesus for the entirety of His ministry). Instead, it means possessing a childlike willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, and a mustard seed’s worth of faith to follow Jesus wherever He leads us.
The specifics of what it means to follow Jesus will differ from Christian to Christian, but for the meantime, if you are curious about where to start, I would encourage you to join a local community of believers. Following Jesus in a vacuum devoid of community is impossible, so jump into a church. I am positive that I will talk about this again another time, so I will stop here.
 Matthew 4:19
It occurs to me that it might be helpful to write a series of posts about some basic components of Christian living. I’m going to call it “How Do I Do Christian Stuff”. Let’s start with prayer.
Prayer is a vitally important, though often neglected, facet of Christian living. Prayer is mentioned somewhere around 6 zillion times in the Bible, which clearly expects the people of God to be people of prayer. You might fairly point out that prayer is not a practice unique to Christianity, as many world religions and faith systems utilize prayer in one way or another. This is true, so let’s address a few questions about prayer specifically within the realm of Christianity.
1. What is prayer?
There are several different elements involved in Christian prayer; but to give a simple running definition, prayer is deliberate, intentional communion with God. When you talk to God, you are praying. Prayer is more than simple self-reflection or meditation, although both of these things are part of prayer. To fit within the Christian spectrum of prayer, one must be communicating with another party; namely, God. This is important because the idea behind prayer rests on the assumption that God actually listens to us and responds, actively shaping our thoughts and desires to align with His will.
2. What does prayer do?
Prayer has a couple major effects upon a Christian. First, the act of coming to God in prayer will change you. You cannot legitimately encounter with God, the foundation and ground of being from which all things find existence and meaning, without being affected. Taking time to deliberately speak and listen to God will gradually (and sometimes quickly) reform your heart. Much like Jacob in Genesis chapter 32, your encounter with God will likely leave you walking away with a limp. Simply put, prayer changes us; it is one of the essential tools that God uses to form us into His image. Secondly, prayer gives us a unique opportunity to take part in what God is doing in the world. Our prayers can have an effect on objective world realities. If we take an honest look at Scripture, we will see that the God of the Bible allows humans to affect His actions and decisions within human history. From Abraham bartering with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18), to God’s extension of King Hezekiah’s life due to his earnest prayer (2 Kings 20), to God with holding His wrath from Israel after to Amos’ intercessory prayer, we see a clear precedent for human prayers changing the course of history. Your prayers can have actual, tangible effects in the real world.
3. How do I pray?
Understandably, prayer can feel a bit awkward and unnatural at first. Since prayer is communication with God, there are a lot of different ways that we can approach prayer. There are tons of different ways to communicate with other humans, and there are tons of ways to commune with God as well. I don’t want to give a formula for how you should pray, but I would encourage you to look to the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) as an outline to help guide you in initial phases. Also, here are a few components that would probably be involved in a healthy prayer life.
Praise: No, I am not talking about going off on a Neil Diamond musically inspired rendition of ‘Lord I Lift Your Name On High.’ I am referring to a deliberate time of contemplating God’s nature: His goodness, power, mercy, love, etc. Taking time to reflect and affirm God’s attributes leads us to a place of worshipful acceptance in which we can pray and commune with God more effectively.
Thankfulness: Thanking God for all of the good things that He has brought into your life is a healthy and life giving practice. A posture of thankfulness can take you a long way in your prayer life.
Confession: The Bible consistently calls us to confess our sins to God (and to others as well). If you cannot bring yourself to acknowledge your own sin to God (who already knows all the messed up stuff you have done anyway), then you might want to examine your heart. Confession of sin is the initial step that leads us toward repentance, healing, and experiencing new life.
Requests: Jesus and Paul are quite clear that we should not be hesitant to make our requests known to God (Luke 18, Philippians 4). We will not always get the answer we want, and we will often find that the process of prayer shapes and changes the kind of requests that we make.
Intercession: There is a long history of Christians praying on behalf of other people. Prayers for healing, salvation, wisdom, protection, and all other kinds of things can be powerful. What we are looking for when we pray this way can be summed up in Jesus’ prayer ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.’
Too many things need to be said about prayer, certainly more than can fit in one blog post. Hopefully this will help some of you get started. If you have questions about prayer, ask a pastor.
I wanted to tell you about this incredible opportunity to learn with other women about the Father’s love. The Bible Study is called Embraced: Experiencing the Love of the Father.
Just to give you a taste of what you missed!! The first night Tonya Riggle spoke on the two types of orphans in Luke chapter 15. She asked the question, “Are we living like orphans?” One powerful thought from the night is, “Many who say ‘Our Father’ on Sunday spend the rest of the week living like orphans.” The first orphan is the younger brother who decided that he could do better for himself than the Father could do for him. The second orphan is the elder brother who was living separately from the heart of the Father working to find his place. Are you living as an orphan? Living out your life as though your plan is better that the Father’s. Are you living out your life as though you are trying to earn the Father’s love?
Come join us as we seek to learn how to live as Daughters of the King. As Daughters of the King we are loved by the Father with a love that is never ending and never lets go. Often as women we seek love from a male figure in our life. We think this love from this man will sustain us and satisfy us. The truth we all know is that it never will. The love from the Father is the one we are truly longing for and the only love that will transform us. If you want to have a life changing experience come Monday nights in the Woodway Village at 7pm. This study is only 7 weeks long so get registered today!! Below is contact information for the Women’s ministry as well as the registration link. The cost is only $10.
God has blessed Tonya Riggle in a mighty way to understand His Word and powerfully communicate His Word. It is a blessing and a privilege to hear from Tonya and the wisdom that God has bestowed upon her. Tonya Riggle has been called to ministry, serving alongside her husband, Dave, of 26 years. They have one son, a junior at Texas A&M. Tonya is crazy about her family, adores the body of Christ and delights in teaching and encouraging women. Currently, she is teaching a Women’s Bible Study and in the Nearlywed Newlywed Class at Second Baptist Houston.
Women’s Ministry, 713.365.2339
Christmas is almost here. Awesome. This time of the year evokes a huge spectrum of emotion, memory, and expectation for Christians (and non-Christians as well). Most people in the United States will hold some of the same memories and expectations in common with a huge mass of other folks—Christmas trees, hot chocolate, old movies, a swirling mass of consumption of food and shopping items, photos with a Santa Clause that smells like beef and cheese and sits on a throne of lies (‘Elf’ reference), etc. Another common element of the Christmas holiday is the gathering of families. For some people this means a sweet reunion with family members who you have not seen in a while, and for others it means inconveniently having to spend time with people who you would rather not see because they have continually brought pain into your life. That’s one of the things that make this time of year so unique: this mix of hope, happiness, bitterness, and loneliness in the lives of people around us that reaches a fever pitch at one seemingly arbitrary period of time. This swelling of activity and ritual leave a great deal of room for reflection, and I would like to offer a few thoughts that Christmas has brought to my mind this year.
Since I am a Christian, the primary significance of Christmas in my life is the celebration that God has decided to act within human history. God has not only identified and understood the need of humans to be rescued from the despair of our own actions, but He has deliberately made a way to humble Himself and enter into our story as a human. I am of course referring to the 8lb, 6oz baby Jesus so delicately referred to in the prayer scene of the wonderful (although inappropriate for children) movie ‘Talladega Nights’ (Will Ferrell is featuring prominently in this blog post). The fact that God would choose to act this way is mind-blowing for a ton of reasons, not least of which is that if Jesus had not humbled Himself in this way and chosen to suffer as a man, we would be left in the pain and despair that comes from our own sin. Christians celebrate Christmas because the coming of the Messiah is the only thing that enables us to become the people that God has created us to be. God’s action has saved us, God’s action has changed us, and God’s action will continue to make us and the world around us into a new creation.
For me, this has been a sobering thought of late; namely, that outside of God’s intervention I am still prone to making life-altering terrible decisions. If the posture of my life is not receptive to God’s leading and calling, then my growth will be stunted, and I am fully capable of making destructive choices. By no means do I claim that this is an original thought on my part, because the clear reality in Scripture is that if we are not vigilant—not watchful of our own surroundings and decisions—then we are all susceptible to making gigantic mistakes. I don’t mean mistakes in an “oops, I didn’t mean to do that” kind of way; I mean it in an “I just deliberately did something terrible” kind of way. The clearest example that I can think of to illustrate this phenomena comes from the life of David. David loved God, and God loved David. God had huge plans for David and gave him massive blessings, and things were going great. But David got comfortable and slowly began to ignore God; he made a string of poor decisions, and found himself in a situation that could have filled a full episode of the Jerry Springer show. He didn’t do his duty as Israel’s king and stayed home when he should have been away, he let his eyes wander and linger when he saw a woman (Bathsheba) bathing from his roof, he called Bathsheba to his palace and abused his power to put her in a position where she could not refuse him, he tried to cover his tracks by calling her husband (Uriah) home from war once he found out that she was pregnant, and when Uriah was too honorable to be with his wife while his friends were at war, David plotted to have Uriah murdered and took Bathsheba as his wife. Wow. That escalated quickly (‘Anchorman’ reference).
This is not just an interesting story; it is a warning. You are never immune to the destructive power of sin— you are human. If you ignore God’s voice and His calling on your life, you could end up dealing with the consequences of your own destructive behavior and wondering how things got so out of hand, just like David. The good news is that God has acted by sending Jesus, and He will continue act in your life through the leading and prodding of the Holy Spirit. Don’t shut Him out; be watchful. Be vigilant of where you go, be vigilant of who you spend your time with, be vigilant of where you let your eyes and mind wander, and be vigilant in prayer. Let this Christmas be a reminder that God is not done with our world, and He is not done with you. Listen to the story again, but not just the part with the manger and the shepherds. Look at what Jesus did with His life, because that is where you will continue to learn what God is like and what He wants you to be like. That’s where you will find life, and that is where you will find purpose.
Merry Christmas, bro’s and ladies!
“Reagan, you really need to watch this new show.” I feel like I have heard this sentence from the lips of my parents 8 zillion times in the past 10 years. Perhaps some of you can relate. I am the youngest of three kids, so while my parents didn’t watch much television at all during my childhood, they started to expand their horizons a bit as my siblings went off to college and I became old enough to drive myself around with my friends. Now my parents regularly inform me of their favorite new shows, and tell me that I should watch them as well. Usually my “whatever my parents like must be stupid” reflex kicks in and I opt not to watch the show, even if I believe my parents when they say it is good. But with one particular show, Psych, everything changed.
My parents told me about the show; they said it was about a super observant slacker who pretends to be a psychic so that he can help the police solve crimes. They said that the strength of the show was the banter between the main character, his straight-laced best friend, and the uptight detective from the police department. They also said that the show made them laugh harder than anything they had seen in a long time, so I decided to give the show a try. I quickly came to realize that the praise that my parents gave to Psych did not even live up to how much enjoyment I received as a viewer of this masterpiece. Psych is hilarious. Everything about the show is funny: the characters, the plot devices, the dialog—Psych just rules. Psych brings me so much more enjoyment than my parents’ recommendation could ever have led me to understand. I know this because I have seen it myself, and I don’t need my parents’ recommendations anymore to believe in Psych’s objective, empirically provable awesomeness.
Until a couple of weeks ago, I never realized that my experience with my parents and Psych strongly resembles a story from the life of Jesus. Jesus and the disciples were travelling north from Judea to Galilee, and they stopped on the way in Samaria. When the disciples went off to grab some food from Taco Cabana, Jesus struck up a conversation with a woman at a well. His conversation with the woman is mind-blowing for several reasons that we won’t get into here, but suffice it to say that Jesus’ willingness to talk to a Samaritan woman was scandalous. On top of this, Jesus somehow knew about the woman’s moral failures (5 marriages and another new roommate of the unethical persuasion), and He told the woman that He was the promised Messiah. The woman was flabbergasted at Jesus’ boldness as well as his inexplicable knowledge of her personal life, so she went back to the village to tell everyone about the weird guy that she just met who may or may not be God’s promised Messiah. The people of her village were interested about the woman’s story, so they asked Jesus to stay with them for a couple days, and he agreed to stay.
Initially, one group of Samaritans came to believe that Jesus was the Messiah simply because of the woman’s story about Him. After the two days in the town, some who were unsure about Jesus came to believe in Him as well, saying to the woman: “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world. (John 4:42)” The testimony of the woman drew the interest of others in her community, but the thing that really brought people to the point of belief was encountering Jesus themselves. The woman’s experience with Jesus did not immediately turn her into a super- persuasive proselytizer, it just made a huge impact on her psyche and led her to point everyone she knew toward Jesus.
I think we Christians sometimes miss this concept by assuming that sharing our faith requires us to convince people through persuasion to believe all of the same things that we believe. But Jesus does not require people to mentally assent to a checklist of propositions, he just requires that people ‘come, follow.’ He also continually asks the questions “who do people say that I am?” and “who do you say that I am?” Jesus had supreme confidence in the fact that His ministry was the living embodiment of God’s action in the world, and he knew that many people who encountered Him would taste and see that the Lord is good. Encountering Jesus gave people a taste of the bread of life that will lead them to never hunger again, and the living water that forever satisfies a thirst that they may not have even realized was there in the first place. You are not likely to be so persuasive that you will convince someone that Jesus is the Son of God whose death paid the penalty for their sins, and even if you are that persuasive, it kind of misses the point. The job of the Christian isn’t to persuade, it’s to point—to point toward Jesus—because He is the one that brings life, and the Holy Spirit is the only one who can really change someone’s heart. Jesus is the Word that was with God in the beginning, He is the fundamental DNA behind everything that exists, He is the fullness of God somehow packed into a man—people cannot experience Him and come out unscathed. So I want to encourage you, but I also want you to examine yourself on this point; the burden is not on you to convince people to believe in Jesus, but the burden is on you to constantly point people toward experiencing Him with your words and with the way you live.