8/12/12 Robert, 21
"All heavenly minded and no earthly good". That's the way I viewed evangelistic Christians at one time. There are so many other areas of life touched by our relationship with Jesus, I reasoned. After all, didn't Jesus come to to preach good news to the poor, proclaim freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, and to release the oppressed? (Luke 4) Shouldn't we focus on social justice and the right relationships that Jesus brings and in so doing just assume salvation will fall in place? But Jesus wasted no time in speaking of heaven. He began his public ministry in Matthew 4, and "From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." We may work for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven, but it starts with repentance and being right with God and part of His kingdom. For this reason, I usually focus on the question of salvation and eternity in my witnessing conversations. I spoke with a young man named Robert on a busy sidewalk after church today. His chief spiritual concern had to do with all the various signs that the end of the world as we know it is near. He seemed to feel enlightened with inside information about such things, but after listening to all these concerns for a while, I said "We really can't know when all this will happen, but we do know that our own world could end at any time. None of us are guaranteed another day of life and we all face eternity at any moment. Would you be ready to face God's judgment if you died today?" This really helped Robert to get his focus off all the various end-of-world and conspiracy theories and onto the essential and foundational issue of what it means to be in a right relationship to God in the first place. People can be spiritually distracted by many things, and we may need to listen and speak to these topics for a time. But part of the work of an evangelist is to work past these distractions to what is truly essential in eternity, the salvation of their souls.