Many believe that Christians are tasked with getting people saved. That’s not exactly true. As Believers, we are supposed to spread the Gospel. Ideally, upon hearing the Word, non-believers will come to God. However, things do not always work like that. In fact, many have no desire to even hear about Jesus, and will quickly shut down any attempt by a Believer to raise the subject of Jesus. In those cases, it is easy for us to feel like we have failed, especially for those who are particularly passionate about spreading the Good News and converting people to the Faith. What happens when people simply do not want to believe?
First, we have to understand that we spread the Gospel, but the process of a person being saved is not really about us. It’s all about God.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
We may feel a sense of rejection when we try to speak about Jesus and are met with rolled eyes, raised hands, or laughter, but ultimately none of that has anything to do with us. We should not personalize the reactions we receive from some people or use hurt feelings from those reactions to prevent us from sharing the Gospel. After all, rejection of God is nothing new. In fact, it precedes Jesus’ birth and life on Earth. When God directed prophets to take instructions directly from Him to the people, the people still desired a human king. Samuel, one of God’s prophets, was unhappy with the people and their desire. God made it clear that the failure was not with Samuel.
And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. – 1 Samuel 8:7
When we serve the Lord and people resist, they are not acting in opposition to us. They are acting against God and His will. We can’t allow ourselves to take that personally because doing so would only inhibit us from continuing to fulfill our roles. Jesus understood this very well. When he sent out his 12 disciples to spread the Gospel, he gave them the following instruction:
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. – Matthew 10:14
Jesus had already experienced rejection firsthand. He knew what it was like to do the Father’s work and be rejected for it. In a previous blog (Even the Devil Must Submit), the story of Legion was discussed. In that story, Jesus freed a man who had been possessed by a multitude of demons. Jesus freed that man from their hold causing a miraculous change in the man’s life. One would think everyone who witnessed would celebrate. However, that’s not what happened.
Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region. – Mark 15:16-17
Imagine performing such an amazingly good act for someone, only to be turned away by the people that bore witness. Even when Jesus went home to Nazareth where people knew him the best, the disbelief from the people who witnessed what he did and said persisted. He tried to teach and change lives, but was met with resistance and offense. Even Jesus was surprised by the level of disbelief he encountered.
Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. – Mark 6:4-6
Ultimately, we know the world rejected Jesus in the worst way. As far as the people knew, Jesus’ life was spent doing nothing but serving God and putting people on the right track, and they killed him for it. If, after everything Jesus did, he still had to deal with such strong disbelief, how could we believe that we’d face any less? If, even after being rejected as he was, Jesus was still willing to lay down his life for mankind, how can we allow anything to discourage us from continuing to tell others about Him?
Everyone has a choice. God has given us that. Each person has to choose God for himself or herself. Believers can provide non-believers with the knowledge they need to make an informed choice. We can give them the encouragement they need to make the choice. We can set examples that allow non-believers to understand why following God is the right choice. However, even after we’ve done all we can, it is still a choice that only they can make. We can’t coax or coerce them into making the decision we desire. We can’t force them into doing the right thing through laws. We have to let them make the choice on their own, and whatever they decide is between them and God. If they choose to follow him, then we will have gained new siblings in the Faith. If they choose to reject Him, then He will deal with them as He sees fit. Either way, God has given us a job to do, and we should continue to do it joyfully regardless of the results.