Last week, I encountered two desperate people on the same day.
The first was a young woman whose husband was just diagnosed with cancer. They have several young children, and this news made everything else in their world disappear.
The second was an old friend I ran into at the gym. He told me his wife has left him and is filing for divorce.
Neither knew what they were going to do next. They were desperate.
Desperation is all around us.
But contrary to popular opinion, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Moments of desperation push us to stretch beyond our comfort, reputation, tradition, emotions, and even reason. We are willing to risk failure, ridicule, and criticism.
Desperation drives us to stretch and risk and search for answers beyond ourselves.
Three of the gospel account share the story of a paralyzed man being lowered through a hole in a roof to the feet of Jesus. He got there because his friends were desperate enough to push through a crowd, tear through a roof, and dangle their friend by a rope.
And you know what Jesus says?
Seeing their faith, Jesus told the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” Mark 2:5
This is crazy on multiple levels. First, he tells the guy his sins are forgiven (not his paralysis). Jesus knew this man’s most pressing need was not physical but spiritual. His sin issue was worse than his body issue. [Spoiler alert: Jesus did end up healing the guy’s paralysis, as well, but that wasn’t his first concern.]
Second, the catalyst for his forgiveness was “their faith.”
Not “his faith.” “Their faith.”
Now this group's faith probably included the paralyzed man, but it at least included his friends. This has got me thinking.
How can we increase our faith and bring our friends to Jesus?
Pray for them. Literally, bring them to the throne of Jesus.
Tell them you are praying for them. Most likely, they will appreciate the sentiment even if they don’t believe the same as you. It’ll also show them you are serious about this Jesus thing.
Strike up a spiritual conversation by asking them what they believe. Be genuinely curious about their beliefs; don’t be quick to throw yours out there. Everyone likes to talk about their beliefs, and true friends listen with love and respect. [Oh, and don’t be someone’s friend just because you want to tell them about Jesus. That’s weird. Listen first and then tell them about Jesus because they are your friend.]
Invite them to church. It’s surprising how effective this is. Most of us are so afraid our friends will think we are weird, so we never give it a shot. It’s worth the risk and pays off more than you know.
All three of those ideas may seem trite, but just because they are simple doesn’t mean they won’t work.
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Great post! Thanks for the encouragement!