6/16/10 Jim, 41
Although God can raise up stones to be "children for Abraham" (Matt. 3:9) He chooses to replace our hearts of stone with hearts of flesh instead (Ezekiel 11:19) and I believe He normally does this through a fairly long process. People hear the Word and observe it in other people's lives and attempt to clean up their lives by their own strength only to fall short numerous times and gradually come to realize their need for Jesus. Pastors and church leaders often don't realize what this process involves because by the time a "seeker' comes to church they are usually already in the final stages of this process of being drawn to the Lord. In my experience, however, the people I meet on the street or in the marketplace are usually only in the beginning stages of this journey, and I often have the privilege of "waking them up" to spiritual things. Today at the park, however, I met a man (Jim) who seems well along this spiritual process. We talked as he watched his daughter in the playground. He has been talking with some relatives and friends who have become Christians and has many questions as a result. He knows the first step to God is to admit his sin, which he is freely able to do, but isn't sure what comes next. He is also confused by the hypocrisy he sees in the lives of the Christians he knows. I asked what he knew about Jesus, and all he could say was that He was a great preacher, so we talked a long time about the meaning and importance of the cross. One important question he had was a statement that "it was easier for Jesus to give His life knowing it was for the whole world" and it was tempting for me to state the unbiblical cliche that "even if you were the only sinner in the world Jesus would have died for you" as I have heard some preachers say. However, this man-centered statement puts the emphasis on our self worth rather than Jesus' infinite worth and holiness; the truth is that Jesus "gave himself as a ransom for all men" (1 Tim.2:6). If Jim had a proper understanding of who Jesus is and who we are in comparison he would cling to the Savior and wouldn't need to ask this question. Jim is on his way as a seeker; I did my best to explain things but I pray that God will bring to completion what He has begun in Jim's life.