I gotta say that there's something that has really been eating at me for the past couple days. Although I was not a direct witness to this, a conversation was relayed to me that has saddened me quite a bit.
Apparently, a mom made the comment that she was not going to able to sign her son up for Adventure Week (our version of Vacation Bible School - but really amped up) because the dad said he "didn't want his son brainwashed."
If you are a believer, and Christ is the center of your life, it's tough for those words not to sting. Not because we feel threatened, or because we are weak in our faith. But, because we want to take up for God. We want to have His back, just like He has ours.
Fortunately, I didn't allow the statement to penetrate too deep. The thing is, there are a lot of people who believe this. They believe followers of Christ are weak-minded. Gullible. Misled.
But, as much as the comment bothered me, it has saddened me even more. I am sad because this person doesn't know God like I do...at least not yet.
The great news is that God speaks to unbelievers every day. He pricks hearts and draws people to Him all the time. He is pursuing all the time, and often times even the most staunch atheists cannot escape the grip of His love for them.
In his outstanding book Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller writes, "I couldn't give myself to Christianity because it was a religion for the intellectually naive. In order to believe Christianity, you either had to reduce enormous theological absurdities into children's stories or ignore them. The entire thing seemed very difficult for my intellect to embrace."
It wasn't until a friend of his told him a story about Navy SEALs freeing hostages in a dark part of the world that he was more able to identify with following Christ. As the story went, these Navy SEALs dropped out of a helicopter, then stormed into the room where hostages had been imprisoned for months. The hostages were huddled together in a corner, lying on the floor, terrified. The SEALs began yelling for the hostages to get up and follow them - that they were Americans. But, the hostages didn't move.
An idea struck one of the SEALs. Miller says, "He put down his weapon, took off his helmet, and curled up tightly next to the other hostages, getting so close that his body touched some of theirs. He softened the look on his face and put his arms around them. He was trying to show them he was one of them."
It wasn't until the SEAL did this that the hostages trusted their rescuers and followed them to freedom.
Miller continues, "When I understood that the decision to follow Jesus was very much like the decision the hostages had to make to follow their rescuer, I knew then that I needed to decide whether or not I would follow Him. The decision was simple once I asked myself, Is Jesus the Son of God? Are we being held captive in a world run by Satan, a world filled with brokenness? And, do I believe Jesus came to rescue me from this condition?"
Most people who don't yet know Jesus have never felt that they need to be rescued from anything. The fact is that most people don't come to know Christ (or come back to him) when things in their personal world are going great. But, there's always a time when that will change.
As Chuck Swindoll puts it, it's those times when the crutches of life are kicked out from under us. That's when we realize there's nothing - or no one - to lean on but God.
Call me ignorant. Call me gullible. Call me weak-minded. That's fine. But, it's not my mind that tells me to follow Jesus. It's my heart. And, when a heart breaks, only God can mend it.
I pray for those who don't yet have a relationship with a God who loves beyond measure. The great news is that He's always there - and anxious - to welcome them into His family.