It is common to hear Christians speak from pulpits and in street-witnessing crews about “getting saved.” We hear people ask “have you given your life to Christ?” and think of a one-time decision that marks an individual’s commitment to changed. But while it is the point of Christianity to point men to Christ, the concept of what that actually means is so mixed up in a history of religion and formality that we Christians are often selling the packaging rather than the product. One of the most common terms for “getting saved” is “getting your life right with God.” This term implies not only repentance, but behavior change, and that daunts unbelievers. It sounds like I am making a commitment to stop cussing, drinking, smoking, doing drugs, lying, fornicating, and a slew of other naughty things that the Church frowns upon. That’s an incredible to-do list, but I know in my heart that I can’t do it all, so why even try?
However, there is a difference between “getting saved” and meeting Jesus. Jesus is the point of change, not the individual making the decision for Christ. In fact, we cannot successfully change until we meet Christ. The point of Christianity is to spread good news. What good news is that? The news that God himself made it possible for sinful man to know him again. How? By becoming man so that he could be the only perfect sacrifice, not only to appease God’s wrath against sin, but to pass the power to be godly on to humanity.
So since we are talking about life-change, let’s look at an analogy. “Getting saved” is like making a New Year’s resolution. We see that there’s a need for a change and we put our effort into making the change, but a month or so in, we run out of steam, get discouraged, and give up, because our will-power was not strong enough to make it happen. Meeting Jesus, on the other hand, is like meeting and making friends someone who you can tell is better than you. But rather than making you feel worse about yourself, this friend, just by virtue of being near, makes you want to be better, and over time, you begin to become like this good friend.
The message of the gospel, then, isn’t “Get saved!” but “meet Jesus!” The good news is that God want’s to be your friend so that you can become like him. This message is so much less intimidating than the “get saved” message. After all “it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.” The change comes in meeting the man, not embracing a concept. Jesus himself is the point of change. Salvation is not a commitment to personal change because Christianity is not about being a better person. It’s about knowing God. This is the message that Christians should be sharing.
“After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.’”
~ John 17:1-3