Compiled by Marti Clark from Don Everts & Doug Schaupp, I Once was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Path to Jesus, IVP Books 2008.
Crossing Thresholds: How 21st Century Americans Become Christians
THRESHOLD 3: OPENING UP TO PERSONAL CHANGE
Last time we looked at some ways we can help provoke curiosity about Jesus in our unchurched friends. When they do become curious it can seem like they are very close to the Kingdom. But people can be curious about God, yet completely closed to the idea of personal change. While they may be eager for answers to their questions, Christianity calls them into a changed life, and for most people, that is a scary prospect. Often this Third Threshold is the most difficult to pass through. For many non-Christians, an openness to change requires them to reconsider and possibly surrender closely held beliefs, current lifestyle choices, and their whole worldview.
How can we help guide friends into a posture of openness to change?
1. Patience: People at this stage often go through a chaotic struggle with many twists and turns, and we need to be as patient with them as God is with us in our struggles.
2. Enduring Prayer: Our persistent prayers are vital. This is often a time of intense spiritual warfare. Many people don’t make it past this Threshold.
3. Willingness to challenge: This is a time when honest, loving challenges can be exactly what our friend needs in order to take further steps. For many of us, the thought of challenging our friend produces anxiety. But we can look to Jesus for our example. He challenged people all the time. He challenged different people in different ways, but he always did so with love and nonjudgmental truthfulness.
If you have a non-Christian friend who you feel is ready to be challenged, you might want to study Jesus’ encounters with the people he challenged: the woman at the well, Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, Zachaeus and others. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Also it might be helpful to learn more about Threshold 3 in Evert’s and Schaupp’s book, I Once was Lost: What Postmodern Skeptics Taught Us About Their Paths to Jesus. Oh, and let us know about your friend. We’ll pray for them too!