Last night as we gathered in a home with several other followers of Jesus we discussed several scriptures. We talked about the joy and hope of eternal life. One person mentioned that it was a great joy to think about heaven but that it was also saddening to think that some of their friends/family wouldn’t be there. This is a somber thought but one worth considering.
For all the hope that a follower of Jesus has, they also carry a great burden for those who choose not to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. That choice will mean eternal separation from God and from loved ones that have chosen Jesus - The Way, The Truth and The Life.
How should a Christian person feel towards a person who is apart from Jesus? Some seem to feel apathy - we do not care about them or their choice. Others seem to feel some time of smug satisfaction - we are glad of our destination and seem to rejoice that others might ‘get what is coming to them’. Surely, these aren’t right.
I believe Paul wrote of the emotion that we should have when thinking about this issue in Romans 9:1-3 - I am speaking the truth in Christ—I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit—that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
Do you hear the compassion in his words? He is so torn over his kinsmen who have heard the good news of Jesus and have rejected it.
What would you be willing to do to see your friend or family receive salvation through Jesus? Paul felt so much compassion that he would have been willing to lay his own salvation, his own eternity, on the altar for the sake of his kinsmen. Obviously, he could not do this but it aptly describes his anguish. No apathy here. No smug satisfaction. Paul represents the heart that you and I should have for those in our world who are choosing to live a life apart from Christ.
This angst caused Paul to be a motivated missionary. It fueled his zeal and spurred him on to all that God called him to do. Look in the back of your Bible in the maps and find the one that says ‘Paul’s Missionary Journeys’. You will see many miles traveled and many churches planted. This man was unwilling to sit by while others went without hearing the message of Jesus and even once they had heard it he was filled with an eternal compassion that they might be saved.
What emotions do you feel when considering the eternal consequences and choices of loved ones and those within your sphere of influence where you live, work and play? What are you going to do about it?