REGAINING A HEART FOR UNBELIEVERS
BY LARRY MOYER
“When I came to Christ, I thought everybody had to know about Him. He was the one person I felt all my friends needed to hear about, and I even saw one or two of them come to Christ. Yet now that I’ve been a Christian for 10 years, it just doesn’t seem I’m that concerned anymore. I hate to admit it, but sometimes I wonder how much I really care whether I talk to unbelievers or not.”
I’ve heard that kind of confession from more than one Christian. The confessions often range from not taking time to spend with unbelievers to not feeling concern about their eternal destiny. These Christians should be complimented for confessing something that’s far easier to deny.
Realizing their lack of compassion, they may ask: “How can I regain my concern for lost people?”
We must recognize unconcern for unbelievers is-at least in part-a spiritual issue. if we take the Scriptures at face value, there is
simply no way of getting close to Christ without seeing how much He cares for those for whom He died. Luke 19:10 is quite explicit. “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” In light of that clear statement, is it possible to get close to the Master’s heart without getting close to the Master’s mission? Or consider Matthew 4:19 where Christ extended the invitation, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” How, then, can we follow closely in His footsteps without being captivated by His concern for the lost? if we would like to think of ourselves as growing Christians, a good biblical barometer of our growth would be, “How concerned am I for lost people?”
Does that mean if we do not witness to one person a day, we are not even close to Christ and have no concern for the lost? Not for a moment. He wants our lives to be motivated by a relationship, not regulations. it is to say, however, that if we draw close to Jesus Christ, we will find His concern for the lost rubbing off on us.
I have a friend in California who is an avid bass fisherman. Mention the subject around him, and regardless of the business pressures upon him, he comes alive. He’ll tell you in a flash about the latest tournament, the latest lure, and the latest catch. I can’t be with him very long without feeling I’m missing out on something pretty exciting. I have to work on controlling my interest whenever I’m around him, lest he take me by my hand and lead me to the sporting goods store! Fishing isn’t just fun for him-it’s serious business.
Something similar happens when we get close to Christ. Known as the “friend of sinners,” He gave the distinct impression His whole life revolved around lost people. Since they are so close to His heart, the closer we draw to Him, the closer we draw ourselves to the people for whom He died, both saved and lost. Are we spending the time needed each day simply to get to know Him better, talking to Him through prayer, and letting Him talk to us through the Scriptures? Or are we like Martha in Luke 10:41 “worried and bothered about so many things” that we have neglected just sitting down and talking to Him and letting Him talk to us? A genuine, growing relationship with Him should lead to a growing closeness to non-Christians.
Now we must ask ourselves: Am I living life in a cocoon? A Christian cocoon could be any comfortable place that affords shelter from non-Christians. Once we come to know the Savior, our desires and interests have a way of changing. We still like the party life-but of a different complexion. It’s more enjoyable to be around believers and hear them speak of prayer and Bible study or a bit of nourishment they have received through Christian radio. it’s fun knowing those who realize there is more to life than a new house and a new car. Even church becomes a place of fellowship with those of like mind instead of a place of hospitality to those who aren’t.
”But sometimes I’m not comfortable around non-Christians,” one might remark. But God never asks, “Are you comfortable around them?” God asks, “Do you pity them?” Matthew 9:36 informs us that on seeing the multitudes, Jesus “felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.” if we share that compassion, we must spend time with lost people in hope of leading them to the Savior.
Sometimes we realize we don’t have contacts with unbelievers.
Without contacts personal evangelism becomes impossible. How do we speak to people we never see?
Start listing non-Christians know, even though may have no meaningful contact with them. Then, considering a few at a time, begin to think what you can do with each one to cultivate a meaningful relationship. Be realistic. You don’t have any more time to give, so forget about taking time out of your schedule. Instead consider ways to work them into your schedule. A Friday night ball game at the local high school could be just as easily enjoyed with the company of an unbeliever. An unsaved housewife might welcome a ride to the mall. Bear in mind that even an hour together now might lead to an afternoon together later-and a superb opportunity to explain the grace God showed in the cross.
Like to play tennis? Play it with a non-Christian. A man I led to Christ later said to me, “The good news is that you led me to Christ; the bad news is you messed up my tennis game.” I asked the obvious question, “Why? “Because,” he said, “I found out that the person I played tennis with-who first spoke to me about Christ plays tennis only with unbelievers. Now that I’ve come to Christ, I’ll probably have to find a new tennis partner!” Do you know what else? The new believer respects his friend for that. He told me, “I understand. Frankly I’d like to see him play tennis with as many non-Christians as possible, so he can have the impact on them he had on me. ”
Is God who He says or isn’t He? Of course He is! If so, then we can speak to God as simply, humbly, and sincerely about our lack of concern for the lost as we talk about our financial struggles, employment hassles, or marital difficulties. The Scriptures exhort us, “Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
That being the case, can I not come to Him and say, “God, you’re easy to talk to, but what I want to tell you is not easy to talk about. I really don’t share your compassion for the lost. Quite frankly, non-Christians don’t concern me that much. But if you will help me change, then I’m willing, and I’d like to start today. Would you help me develop the same kind of heart that You have-one that cares for those who don’t know you? I’ve seen you answer my other prayers. Would you kindly answer this one?” Or we can say, “I get my priorities so messed Lip, but if you will show me how, I want to move lost people up on my list of priorities.”
One word of caution. If we sincerely mean that, we need to stand back and get ready. God will answer. He’s a God who not only provides food and finances; He also has an abundant supply of compassion for those who ask Him for it.
First John 5:14-15 assures, “And this is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” There is no question that such a prayer is according to His will, so when we pray in that way, we may expect an answer.
As an evangelistic speaker, I get paid for speaking to the lost. At the same time, I don’t want to do it simply because I get paid to do it. I want to do it because one of the thrills of living is introducing lost people to Christ. So anytime I even begin to think I may be speaking out of habit instead of concern, I’ll have a good talk with the Lord about it. I have yet to do that one time that He has not reignited in me a fire for unbelievers. In fact, it’s helped my understanding of Him and my prayer life a great deal. It’s so comforting to know He’s the kind of Father to whom I can talk about absolutely anything, and He won’t embarrass me for asking; He’ll just graciously answer. What a Father!
While I was speaking in the Midwest, a man introduced himself to me and shared a very interesting testimony. “A few weeks ago,” lie said, “I came face-to-face with the fact that I’ve lost a lot of my concern for lost people. I started to pray and ask God to restore the concern I used to have. I didn’t realize He would answer so quickly. The next day a coworker asked me a question related to a spiritual issue. I immediately had an opportunity to talk about the gospel.” That simple conversation reminded the man how refreshing it is to talk with others about the Savior.
An individual wrote, “I’m not sharing the gospel as I should. I’ve lost My focus.’! if that’s where you struggle, applying the above
suggestions can help You focus your concern where it needs to be: on the lost for whom He died.
If you are not where you need to be in your concern for lost people, put these principles in practice:
1. draw closer to Jesus Christ,
2. spend time with unbelievers,
3. ask God to restore your concern for non-Christians.
In a matter of weeks, you’ll likely find you’re further along than you were. That in itself will begin to encourage you as you seek to have a heart closely aligned with God’s. Remember, it’s not just where you are but also the direction in which you’re headed that’s important.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY DALLAS SEMINARY, KINDRED SPIRIT, AUTUMN 1994, VOL. 18, NO. 3, PAGES 10, 11, 15.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.