I’m not bragging when I say this. My wife didn’t want to get married growing up. At least, she tells me that she didn’t want to get married too early. She wanted to wait. She wanted to put it off. She didn’t want to be the stereotypical “Ring by Spring” getting her “M.Rs.” from her Bible college. But she became a stereotype and married me the week after she graduated.
What happened? Well, I came into the picture. I met her when she was 18, we started dating right as she turned 20, and we were married when she was 22. Early as the birds come these days.
My wife wasn’t into “commitment.” She didn’t want to be “tied down.” Like any normal person she didn’t want to end up like some “boring old married couple.” All people talk about are the downsides of being married: what you have to give up, what you can’t do anymore, what you do “for fun.” That wasn’t enticing.
She didn’t want to get married for a very smart reason: the sacrifice wasn’t worth what she got out of it. She had a fear of commitment, but it was totally legit. She was afraid to commit to something she didn’t know, to someone she had no feelings for yet, and it was going to cost her everything.
When we tell people about entering a relationship with Jesus they’re reasonably squeamish. It doesn’t sound fun. It doesn’t sound inviting. It doesn’t sound worth it. Why? Well it’s the same reason my wife didn’t want to get married. She didn’t like the idea of sacrificing her independence and freedom. She didn’t like the idea of changing. She didn’t like the idea of becoming “boring.”
What got my wife over the hump? What convinced her to get married so young? Well (cough, cough), I did. She didn’t fall in love with commitment. She didn’t fall in love with changing who she is. She didn’t fall in love with becoming a boring old married couple. She fell in love with me and all that came with it, especially the last part.
To be honest, if all someone told me about marriage was what I’d have to give up and change about myself, I also wouldn’t want to get married. After ten years, I can look back and laugh at the person I’ve become. I used to save Carl’s Jr. chicken sandwiches under the seat of my van so I’d have a snack after class; now I don’t eat fast food and instead we are gluten free, dairy free, and sugar free. Sound fun!? I used to be independent, carefree, and able to accomplish tasks efficiently. Now, I have four other people to get on the ball before we make a move toward any task.
But I love my life. My wife loves marriage. We love the commitment. We love being together. Because we love each other.
As we invite people into relationship with Christ we need to consider where they’re coming from. If you know Jesus you know how freeing and peaceful it is to be “married.” The sacrifice isn’t a drag. It’s not a boring departure from your youthful self. It’s perfect peace. But your friends don’t know what he’s like. All they see is “going to church,” “giving money away,” and “doing boring church stuff.” That’s a sacrifice that doesn’t make sense unless you love the person you’re doing it with (Jesus) and the one you’re doing it for (Jesus).
When Peter, Paul, Priscilla, and Phoebe shared the gospel with people, I’m convinced that they told stories about from the Gospels (the biographies of Jesus). They shared stories about what Jesus is like. They told stories of miracles and radical forgiveness and insane boldness and liberating justice.
It’s like when I first met my wife and she told me stories about herself and I told her stories about myself. I wanted her to get an idea of who I am before she took the biggest step of all (which for us was the first date [marriage was a slam dunk after that]).
People don’t want to commit to being Christians unless it’s worth it to them to enter the relationship. They have a legitimate fear of commitment. Who would want to commit to someone they don’t know when it’s going to cost them everything? They have to like Jesus before they’ll want to marry him. We can’t just tell them “You can have a relationship with God” because they don’t know what God is like. “What if I don’t like God?” they might be thinking.
God is an unknown to them so an offer to sacrifice everything for him comes up short in their logic. It sounds like this, “Hey, do you want to get married? If you get married it’s forever. You will have to give up your rec league teams and your nights with friends and going to the beach. You’ll go to bed early and wake up next to the same person every day. But I’m not going to tell you who you’re going to marry, you just have to commit today, forever, and be ready to change everything about who you are and what you like to do!”
For the “Gospel” to come across to someone as “good news” they have to know the person they’re entering a relationship with.
So, get familiar with Jesus. Learn some stories about his life. Meditate on what it has meant for you to be in relationship with him. And then when you go out and talk to your friends and family about Christ, tell them stories about him like you’d tell stories of your favorite friends.