Before I begin, I don’t even know if I agree with my own title operationally. Can someone find Jesus? Or does He find us? In his 19th Century poem, Francis Thompson admiringly nicknamed Jesus as the Hound of Heaven because of His relentless pursuit souls. Yet, scripture teaches us that, if we seek Him, we shall find Him. My finer sensibilities tell me that joining hearts with the Lord is a two-way street.
Is there someone you know and love who does not have faith in Jesus, but who you long to see with Him?
More than doing anything else, pray for that. Our part in evangelism is to witness and pray. The Holy Spirit’s part is to open the eyes of believers, to point to the Cross, to lead us to Christ, and to transform us for all of that to happen. I haven’t met a person yet who can do any of the Spirit’s part effectively. So, we witness and pray to our best. You might wish to augment your prayers for someone’s faith by giving our parish the name. Our prayer teams, clergy, staff, and parishioners will pray for the Spirit’s grace. We pray for all kinds of needs, hopes, and desires. How wonderful it would be for us to have an intentional and focused prayer ministry purely for those who do not know the Lord and the forgiveness, healing, salvation, joy, grace, and peace that flow from Him. Every church should have a ministry like that.
To be most understanding of how one comes to faith, we need to remember that ultimately, Jesus Christ must be one’s personal discovery, with the help of the Holy Spirit. No one can convince or force another person regarding who Jesus is or what He offers. Someone once wrote, “A man convinced against his will is unconvinced still.” That’s wisdom.
We need to also remember that God has no grandchildren. No one can piggy-back another’s faith to find Him. That resonated with me instantly when I read it decades ago. God has only children, not grandchildren. Theologically that means people cannot claim a standing in faith merely because their parents loved Jesus, or a spouse, or anyone else. Each of us is called to love Him of our own heart and desire. Likewise, no one can claim standing with Christ because of membership in a church or denomination of any stripe. Membership is not relationship. You can be a member of a church and attend every Sunday and still not have the relationship Jesus desires to have with you.
Nor can one approach our Holy God of one’s own merit, goodness, or intelligence. In Romans 3:10 Paul quotes Psalms 14 and 53 when he says, “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one.'” Only by the work of Jesus on the Cross are we rendered “good.” We need Jesus, desperately and always. Fortunately for us all, it is the Holy Spirit who draws the human heart to Jesus and opens one’s eyes to see who He is. Those who try to gain God by their human abilities, or who attempt to prove or disprove the Person of God by the intellect, fail because the brain is not big enough to encompass Him. One of my favorite quotes is this anonymous declaration: “By the heart God may be gotten, by the mind, never!” The Bible makes clear that we are to hold the Lord in our hearts by faith. The scriptures also teach that such heartfelt faith precedes understanding. The well-worn phrase, “I won’t believe it until I see it,” is exactly backwards when it comes to the divine. Instead, saying “I won’t see it until I believe it” is the key to opening the doors of truth and light.
Martin Luther observed that the worldly mind sees a crucified figure on a Cross and thinks “pitiful victim, weak and defeated poor soul.” Luther taught that only by the draw and inspiration of the Holy Spirit can one look at that same broken figure and fall to the knees confessing and proclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”
Here’s the opening question once again: Is there someone you know who does not have a faith in Jesus? Surely you should witness your own faith to that person and make a gentle defense of the hope in Christ that is in you, as 1 Peter 3:15 teaches us. One of us may plant a seed in someone’s heart. Another may come along and water that seed somehow. But it is God who makes it grow, not us. Our prayers should be focused on God’s empowerment of that growth.
Remember too that intellectual sword fighting is highly unlikely to convince anyone that Jesus is the Son of God and the Savior of the world because these are matters of the heart first and mind second. The most effective and powerful weapon is to pray that the Holy Spirit will come into that person’s heart and make it soft and fertile for believing. It is undoubtedly our calling to tell others about the Name of Jesus and the Good News of His Gospel. After that, it is up to the Holy Spirit to warm hearts and transform lives. Humans cannot do that, yet God is not only able, but thrilled for every opportunity. One of the great illustrations in history is that of Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, who longed for her partying, unbelieving, and wayward son to take Jesus into his heart. She prayed for more than 30 years and her prayers were rewarded bountifully. My wife prayed the same way for me for 17 years, and though she was successful, the results were far less impressive to be sure.
Please give us a call or send an email with the name of someone you would like to have prayed over for faith in Jesus and conversion in the Spirit.
By doing something so simple, you just might be changing eternity for someone.