God loved the world this way: He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life. … Those who believe in him won’t be condemned. But those who don’t believe are already condemned because they don’t believe in God’s only Son. … Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life. Instead, he will see God’s constant anger. [John 3:16,18,36 (GW)]
Penn Jillette is the larger and vocal half of the extraordinary magician duo of Penn and Teller. Famed as an entertainer, Penn is also an outspoken atheist. Several years ago, an audience member politely approached the entertainer after his show and gave him a pocket-sized copy of the New Testament and Psalms. Although the gesture did not cause the magician to change his point of view, it did impress him enough to cause him to make a video about the encounter.With great respect for the man who had given him the Bible, Penn asked, “How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate someone to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?” Penn can’t understand why so few Christians, people who claim to have the answer to eternal life, are so unwilling to share it.
A similar question was asked by Nabeel Qureshi in his book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. When a schoolmate asked him, “Do you know about Jesus?” Qureshi wondered, “Why had other Christians never asked me this question? Were they content with letting me go to hell, or did they not really believe their faith?” While neither of these encounters changed their beliefs, both men respected the people who’d shared the Gospel: they’d put their mouths where their faith was! Fortunately, another discussion with a different Christian led Qureshi to several years of study and he eventually became a follower of Christ. It would never have happened without a Christian sharing Jesus with him!
“We will do anything short of sin to reach those who don’t know Christ,” are the words of the mountain church at which we worshiped during our winters in Colorado. They are passionate words and reflect the sort of zeal we all should have toward God and His command to expand His kingdom. Belief that there is a real heaven (an eternal unity with God through forgiveness and salvation) and a real hell (eternal separation from God) is fundamental to Christianity. Although Jesus paved our way to heaven and the unbeliever paves his own way to hell, don’t we have an obligation to point those going the wrong way in the right direction?