How hard is it to become a Christian? Do I need to attend a class to confirm it? Do it need to suspend the logical part of my brain and become purely faith based? Is there a formula? How long is this going to take? How do I know if it really sticks?
These are questions that a person who is interested in knowing God might ask. Hey, they're even questions that I often ask. What are the answers we should give? Many times Christians make themselves out to be someone who looks alot like this:
We come across as some snake oil salesman with some magic concoction that will solve all the problems that some poor old chap might have. "Just one swig o' this, morning and night, and all yer ailments be cured, and shurley you'll be saved!" Is there a certain way we need to "save" people?
I've been thinking alot recently about the traditional ways we share the gospel with people. I believe that most of what we preach (when I say "we" I mean at camp and my church, and other evangelistic opportunities I've been involved in) is good and Bible based. However, what has started to irk me is the traditional way we go about "sealing the deal." The thing is, when I see people come to Jesus in the Bible, Jesus never teaches them the ABC's of becoming a Christian, or any other salvation tool that we use. In fact, Jesus had some pretty harsh things to say about God's followers and our traditions in Mark 7 when he says, "You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions."
You might be saying, "Well I see where you're coming from, but although it is not explicitly Biblical, we use it because it works." I understand this, and I understand that there are probably many people who are following Christ today that can attribute this to someone "sealing the deal" in this way. So I am not trying to discredit your salvation if you had an experience like this. However, I'm not fully sure I know what we mean by "it works." What is success in sharing the Gospel with someone? Of course we would reply with the Christian thing to say, that there is no failure because you are supposed to be the messenger and the rest is left to God. But really, what is success when it comes down to it? The reason we share the Gospel is to help others become followers of Christ. We love success. LOVE IT. We love it so much we must know how successful we are. We must quantify it. This, and this alone, is why I believe we "seal the deal" like we do. We want to know that our labors are successful and be able to tell other people about it so they can know how great our ministry is and how close to God we are personally.
In this hunger for spiritual success, I believe we do a great discredit to many people. It's the same principal as in the Middle Ages, when priests simply went around baptizing unbelievers and collecting penance for sins and declaring them saved. By telling people there is some magic formula to save them, we have "let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions." Many people don't understand that there is more to following Jesus than saying a prayer. That's why it's called "following" Jesus. It is not a one time action, it requires giving up your life to emulate Another's. This is why Jesus says in Matthew 19:28-29, "And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.29“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name’s sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life."
So what is the best way to share the Gospel? Simply share the Gospel. Share the teachings of Jesus. Care about people and follow up with them. If they have questions, answer them. How will you know if it works? You may not. But that is not your job. Thank the Lord that's not my job.