I had the blessing of meeting up with an old friend recently. It was a joy to see how she was doing and how her life had been changed since the last time we had spoken. She updated me on all the dramatic episodes of her life: school, work, and friendships had been very eventful for her lately, to say the least. In response I asked her what she was going to do about the trials in her life. “I want to be more spiritual,” was her reply. My ears perked up, and I asked her if she’d ever heard of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She said no.
“Why are you getting all excited?” she said suddenly. Apparently, without realizing it, I had realigned my posture, sat up, and was leaning forward with an intense interest. Like an army getting into battle formation, I was ready and anxious to share with her the good news of Christ and my body language had given me away. My demeanor in the conversation changed and I didn’t even realize it. I tried to act cool after my body language betrayed me: “It’s because I study this stuff, ya know?”
I shared the gospel with her that day, and I went over the implications of believing in Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She had heard the saving story of Jesus Christ before but didn’t realize it was called the “gospel”. I proceeded to talk about God’s sovereignty through hard times, a pretty heavy subject but appropriate in light of what she was dealing with. I asked her what she thought about it all. She nonchalantly replied, “It’s…interesting.” I didn’t quite know if this was the kind of “spirituality” she was looking for.
Afterwards, I was left deep in thought. I was struck by the contrast in our meeting. Interest vs. disinterest. Excitement vs. near boredom. Supernatural vs. melancholy. How could the gospel, something that so excited me and gave me hope seem so, regular to her? Was it me? Was I not conveying the gospel properly? Effectively?
I was reminded of a convicting excerpt from Jonathan Edwards’ life-changing work, Religious Affections. In it he writes:
“And yet how common is it among mankind, that their affections are much more exercised and engaged in other matters, than in religion! In things which concern men’s worldly interest, their outward delights, their honor and reputation, and their natural relations, they have their desires eager, their appetites vehement, their love warm…in these things their hearts are much depressed with grief at worldly losses, and highly raised with joy at worldly successes and prosperity…How they can sit and hear of the infinite height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God in Christ Jesus, of his giving his infinitely dear Son, to be offered up a sacrifice for the sins of men, and of the unparalleled love of the innocent, holy and tender Lamb of God, manifested in his dying agonies, his bloody sweat, his loud and bitter cries, and bleeding heart, and all this for enemies, to redeem them from deserved, eternal burnings, and to bring to unspeakable and everlasting joy and glory; and yet be cold, and heavy, insensible and regardless?”
This is a challenge to the Christian: Too often we allow the gospel to become a bland regurgitation of what we know, and not a genuine outpouring of what we believe. My hope and prayer is that my friend will one day understand the gravity, the immense implications that the gospel has on my life as well as hers but not through what I ultimately say to her. I want her to know by how it affects me, how my life is lived and has changed. I want her to know that Jesus saved me from my sins, and for that I can do nothing but give my life for His glory.
Brothers and sisters, if you’re reading this, know that we can’t afford not to be affected by our hope in the gospel. How can we be cold and emotionless when giving a presentation of the gospel message? How can we continue in sin without remorse or resolution to change in light of the gospel? Everyone knows, everyone can see your religious affections, or lack thereof.