Encountering Christ first-hand is life-changing. Without this encounter, Christianity is just a set of rules.
33 Whoever listens to me will live in safety (of soul) and be at ease (in heart), without fear of harm (from God or anyone).
My SS class knows that I have several favorite Bible verses. My newest one is John 18:5,
5 “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied.
“I am he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.)
My footnote for “I am he” reads,
18:5b Or “The ‘I am’ is here”; or “I am the Lord”; Greek reads I am; also in 18:6, 8.
“I AM” is the name God told Moses when Moses asked God whom he should say sent him (see Exod 3:14). What happens when people are face-to-face with God? Let’s read the next verse and see:
6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Everyone? Everyone! Even Judas. It makes me wonder if everyone falls to the ground in the presence of Jesus. Oh! That reminds me of another set of my favorite verses,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11
So, if everyone will fall to their knees and confess Jesus is Lord, then will they do so willingly or unwillingly? What about those who have never heard the name of Jesus in this life? What about those who only know the Jesus they have been presented (a distorted image of Jesus)? The character of God precludes Him sending anyone to hell without a chance to know Jesus. In fact, does He send anyone at all? Is it not a choice that people make when they reject Him?
When I consider Saul (later to be called Paul) on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-19), I get a pretty good picture of what a murderer would do when he meets Jesus face-to-face. His words were, “Who are You, Lord?” Saul had been persecuting Christ’s church and was on his way to Damascus to do the same, but Jesus didn’t hammer him; instead, He introduced Himself to Saul, “I am Jesus, the One whom you are persecuting.” There was no accusation or judgment in His statement, only truth. Then, Jesus told Saul what to do next, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Saul was His from then on.
It was dangerous for the early Christians to share their faith openly. They relied on Jesus to bring people into His flock Himself. You know what? By the year 300 A.D. it is estimated that half the Roman Empire was made up of Jesus followers! Even today, Jesus is revealing Himself to people of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. See More Than Dreams.
Let’s pray for more people to encounter Jesus in their dreams. Let’s pray for His Church to keep advancing. Let’s pray for a worldwide awakening to the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Abba, You are, indeed, building Your kingdom–one person at a time! It is very freeing to realize that You don’t need us to tell people about You, but You love for us to join You in the process. May we count it a privilege (not a duty) to join You in where You are working. Amen.