Ill never forget my Sunday School teacher challenging us every week during class (after the flannel graph special effects show) to let Jesus into our hearts.
Being the neurotic little kid that I was I had this mental picture of Jesus desperately trying to no avail to squeeze into each ventricle of my heart. Somehow, I was unknowingly blocking him from coming into my heart with some subconscious brain impulse that was impeding my salvation.
I must have asked Jesus to come into my heart a hundred times. Was he there? I didnt know. If I remember my eight year old thought processes during these gospel presentations it went something like, Jesus, please come into my heart. Are you there? Over? Can you knock three times on my pancreas if you made it in? What if I have a heart attack, will you die? If I get a heart transplant will I lose my salvation? If I cough too hard will you go flying out of my mouth? Just in case, Jesus, come into my heart again. Are you there yet? Over?
These thoughts and more spun in my tiny brain every time I heard the phrase let Jesus into your heart. I told you I was neurotic. But part of my neurosis was my Sunday School teachers fault. Although she was doing her best to give the gospel, she was unintentionally confusing me with a term that has been sacredly handed down from generation to generation of traditional American Christians.
I dont know exactly where this term came from. Almost every time I hear it the teacher or preacher using it point to Revelation 3:20 as a proof text, Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. From this verse a picture of Jesus standing outside the doorway to our heart knocking loudly to see if we will open it to him. Remember the picture hanging in your Sunday school class? If you dont, your parents do.
The problem is that this verse has nothing to do with salvation for the lost. Instead it is addressed to the church of Laodicea challenging them to quit locking Jesus out of their church services and their lives. This verse is not for the lost but for us! It is a call to have an open, loving, authentic relationship with the God of the universe.
Some well-meaning preacher generations ago probably misread this passage and coined a phrase that has confused a lot of children, teens and even adults over the years. Dont get me wrong Im sure that tens of thousands of people have heard this same phrase and come to Christ as Savior. But for those of us who arent quite as sharp the whole let Jesus into your heart thing can be quite confusing.
As a matter of fact Christians have a whole truck load of terms that daze and confuse the unreached. We throw questions like Are you saved? Sure we know what that means. Its insider lingo that we have been indoctrinated with since we were little. But to the unchurched mind they are thinking Saved from what? We ask questions like Are you a Christian? and most people we talk to are saying in their minds, I guess so. My parents went to church and I was born in America after all. But being born in America doesnt make you a Christian just like being born in a garage doesnt make you a car!
If you think about it we use terms like turn from your sin when the person listening often doesnt even know what sin is and couldnt turn away from it on their own if they did! We use terms like Make Jesus Lord of your life when they dont know who Jesus is or what Lord means.
Personally, I think that Satan has a Thesaurus. I believe that he has whispered in the ears of countless preachers, pastors, youth leaders and evangelists, words and terms that are just out of reach of the unregenerate minds, words like unregenerate. He is doing his best to get us to use confusing terms and words, or to present gospel presentations that are laced with terms that present a false gospel. And that, my friend, is a dangerous thing.
Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8, But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! Strong words about an important message comprised of strong words that should be accurate, clear and compelling.
Thats why I thank God for Pastor Claude Pettit. On June 23rd, 1974 he clearly explained to me that eternal life was a free gift that we receive when we simply believe that Jesus died for us on the cross and trust in Him alone to forgive us for all of our sins. When he explained this message to me the confusion evaporated and the neurosis disappeared. In a flash I had confidence in Christ and I knew I had eternal life. In that moment my life was transformed, my sins were forgiven, and, guess what? Jesus came to live in my heart!
The Sunday after I trusted in Christ I had a little chat with my Sunday school teacher about being clear in the presentation of the gospel. I have had that chat a thousand times since with countless youth leaders, Sunday School teachers, and preachers.
What does this have to do with you?
Are you clearly sharing the gospel of Jesus? Do you unintentionally use terms that confuse or mislead when presenting this message? Are you as clear as you can be as you communicate the most important truth in the world?
Paul prayed in Colossians 4:4 that he would communicate the gospel as clearly as possible. This is my same prayer for you.
Napoleon had three instructions for his messengers who braved the battlefield to deliver and bring back memorized messages from fighting front to fighting front. The first was Be clear! The second was Be clear! And let me be clear about the third. It was Be clear!
I think that this would be the same challenge of Jesus to us as we deliver his message to a world that desperately needs to hear it clearly. Be clear! Be clear! Be clear!
Jesus said, I tell you the truth, if you trust in me you have eternal life.
Is that clear enough for you?
Founder and president of Dare 2 Share Ministries, International (D2S) Greg Stier has made an impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Christian teenagers across the country through Dare 2 Share conferences, where he equips youth workers and leaders to be effective in sharing the gospel. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries, please visit www.dare2share.org. Find out how Dare 2 Share Ministries and Focus on the Family® are working together to capture the hearts of this generation of teenagers, visit www.capturetheirhearts.com. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.