Christians today have a unique opportunity – one I fear we are squandering. A horrifying reality of people taking into their own hands the determination of whose life matters and whose life doesn’t now brings our country to the brink of implosion. Police overreach threatens legitimate police action. Hate group terrorism threatens legitimate citizen concerns. What is the answer and how do we, as Christians, respond? Whose life matters, anyway?
As Christ followers, we have the answer, the same answer we give to those considering abortion, to those contemplating suicide, and to those concerned about refugees and immigration: All lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us. How we determine through discernment the best course of action in order to preserve life may be different in each situation, but even within those differences, the underlying foundation remains the backbone of every decision: All lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us.
John 3:16 is perhaps the most well-known and most often quoted verse in the Bible: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and raised again.”
1 Peter 3:18 is equally clear: “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just and the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Hebrews 2:1 makes its own case: “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”
And Genesis 1:27 explains why: “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” (All emphases mine)
The Bible says Jesus died for all. That means Jesus died for all. You, me, him, and her. Them. Yes, even them. Kermit Gossnell. Members of ISIS. Celine Dion and that twerking kid. Gays and straights. Drug addicts and holier-than-thous. Blacks and whites, Asians and Hispanics. Stubborn Scots and the Fighting Irish (thank God). Jews and Gentiles, Samaritans and lepers. Us. All of us.
Not all will accept His blood sacrifice. Not all will go to heaven. But all will receive the opportunity (Romans 1:20) because all lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us.
Humanity, however, has a unique way of swinging the pendulum of truth wildly from one far side to the other, and when that gold ball hanging from a thin gold post swings left, right is forgotten entirely. All lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us. But neither in godly principle nor in God’s Word are we instructed or given the option of ignoring justice and the truth of the Gospel in the name of tolerance or acceptance. To consider such a thing is proof our view of God’s love is skewed at best. Neither we as Christians nor our law enforcement officers will or should handle everyone in the same manner, but instead as unique individuals in a unique situation (Proverbs 13:8&9; Romans 13:2-5).
What, then, is our job as Christians? To preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all, because all lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us (Matt 28:19). What, then, is the Gospel? The true Gospel always begins with the bad news: All have sinned and the penalty of sin is death (Romans 3:23; 6:23). There’s that word again – all, and you’re part of all. Each one of us has fallen short of the mark, short of God’s glory, short of good, and none of us can redeem ourselves. Death is imminent and hell is reality…but for the grace of God! And herein lies the Good News: Christ died once for all…and you’re part of all.
And because all lives truly matter to us, we are to love people enough to speak the truth in love to them – the truth of God’s justice, mercy, grace, and sacrifice. The truth that all other lives matter, too, and that taking the lives of others because you’re angry or discriminated against or hurt is as unjust as the injustice enacted upon you. We are to stand against crime, stand against sin, stand against injustice in its various forms, but we are not to stand silent, for to do so is to squander the opportunity we as Christians are now given.
I am reminded of the tale of two salesman who ventured to Africa to find new business opportunities. They both sold shoes and, upon arriving at their destination, they each quickly formed an opinion. One man called his wife and sadly told her to book him a flight home immediately. “I can’t sell anything here,” he told her, “No one here wears shoes.” The second salesman called his wife, as well. Full of excitement he told her to get ready for an adventure. “I can sell to the whole country,” he exclaimed, “No one here wears shoes!”
We’ve all read the stories, heard the reports, and seen the news. We all know our friends’ opinions, the pundits’ opinions, and the president’s opinions. But the only opinion with which we need concern ourselves is God’s. Whose life matters, anyway? The value of every human life is infinite and sacred. All lives matter to God, and therefore all lives matter to us. Go buy up that opportunity.
Acts 8:1&4 “…And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word.”
Great persecution scattered Christians out of Jerusalem, and wherever they settled, they began to witness of the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Verse one tells us that these were not the apostles, but were “you and me” type Christians – those who heard the Gospel, gave their hearts and lives to the Lord, and told others about Him. Wherever they ran into someone, they talked about their Savior and Lord.
Albert Barnes stated that “It should be the great object of all Christians to make the Savior known. By our lives, conversation, and entreaties, we should speak to dying sinners that they be reconciled to God.”
How many of us carry photos of our spouse, children, grandchildren, and pets with us? How difficult is it to draw a conversation around to our spouse, kids, grandkids, or pets? Not hard at all! It’s easy! Love makes it easy. Right?
And because we love the Lord, and have a God-given responsibility to spread the Gospel, it shouldn’t be hard to go about sharing Jesus. We just have to open the door. Just sow a seed….
So how do we go about it? Let’s look at some examples in Scripture.
- Jesus, at the well, said to the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink.” Then He proceeded to tell her that He was Messiah.
- Philip said to the Ethiopian, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” And starting right there in Isaiah, the Old Testament, he proclaimed Jesus as Savior.
- Paul, in Athens, said, “That ‘Unknown God’ you have an altar for, I know Him and can tell you about Him!”
Each witness started where his audience was and went from there to the heart of the Gospel. You and I can do that, too. Where do we go during our day that we have opportunity to speak to someone of Jesus?
Walmart is a great place to strike up conversations.
- Buying dog food? Ask the person in the aisle with you what kind of pet they have. Great door opener. Don’t leave before asking if they know Jesus.
- Picking up a prescription? Strike up a conversation with the person in line behind you. Illness often opens people to your expressions of sympathy and kindness. Promise to pray for the person. Tell them that Jesus heals. Ask if they have a relationship with Him.
- Express gratitude to the soldier in uniform for service to our country. Ask if he loves the Lord.
- Does the woman in line ahead of you have a child in the cart seat? Start your conversation there. Let her know your church has a great children’s program and you’d be happy to see them there. Jesus loves children; the Bible tells us so! Find out if she knows that personally.
- Is the clerk wearing an engagement ring? Extend your good wishes and hope that they will be as happy as you and your spouse are. And let her know that Jesus is at the Center of your marriage and He wants to be the Center of hers, too.
When you’re in the doctor’s office, offer Jesus as the One on Whom we cast our cares for He cares for us. He’s the Friend you can tell your troubles to. Tell how prayer really works.
When you’re waiting for your car to be serviced at Grease Monkey, and someone comments about the nice day, agree, and give God the glory. It opens the door to ask about their walk with Him.
When you see a fish emblem on a car, ask about their relationship with the Lord. If they’re not attending church right now, invite them to yours!
At the park with your kids? Talk to them about their little ones, and find out if they need Jesus.
You can’t beat a hospital waiting room for reaching out with the comfort of Jesus to those who are concerned about a loved one or in trouble themselves.
All these approaches can work; I’ll vouch for that. And love makes the conversations easy. I can vouch for that, too. We love Jesus, and we love people. Hey! This works! Find out what works for you. Be gentle and be wise. And share the Love of your life with someone who needs to hear the good news of your Savior.
Don’t be afraid of fielding a question you don’t know how to answer. A fail-safe fall-back in this situation is to hand the person the church’s card. “Call my pastor. He’ll know how to answer your question. And he cares.” Make sure the service schedules are on the card. And point them out. With an invitation to attend.
As you prepare to run errands or keep an appointment, pray the Lord will open an opportunity for you to speak to someone about Him. And then wade in at every opening. If it goes no further than general conversation in which you speak of the Lord, you’ve done well. We never know how God will use our friendly smile, kind words, our mention of Him, or our church invitation and card for the good of a soul.
Albert Barnes put it like this: “Straightforward, humble Christian conversation is far more acceptable to strangers than we commonly suppose. Alone, approached kindly, most are willing to talk to you.”
Max Lucado said, “Never underestimate the power of a seed.”
It’s a joy to speak of Jesus with someone who knows Him. It is unspeakable joy to speak of Jesus to someone who doesn’t know Him and could come to a saving knowledge in Him because God used you as a vessel to work through. Eternity does not “await”: Eternity starts with the first breath God breathes into our lungs. What a privilege we have to change someone’s eternity! And more than a privilege – we are under orders: “Go, therefore,” and affect eternity for those within our reach. Head out with purpose.
Matthew Henry wrote, “Of those of whom we know nothing else, we know this – that they have souls.” Never-dying souls bound for eternity somewhere. May God use you and me to bring them to Him as we go about telling the good news right where we find people who need to hear.