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In the science fiction thriller film, Gravity, there is a scene that depicts Dr. Ryan Stone in an extremely desperate situation. She is facing imminent death. Stone senses her soul is in danger, but she doesn’t know how to help herself. Any help coming from outside of her seems mysterious. She deems it questionable whether she should pray and cry out for help, but doesn’t know how she would do that in the first place.

“No one ever taught me how…”

I slightly wince at pulling this scene out of the context of the entire movie. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to go enjoy it. If you have viewed it, you may have been like me and felt the weight of this intimate scene. I think I literally felt my insides freeze. Nobody ever taught you how? So if someone had shown you the gospel message, you may have been clinging to that in this moment? Wow, my heart sinks with this reality.

Everyone is Accountable

Of course, we know that God’s law is inborn in all of us, though we have not kept it. All are accountable for their sin and in need of saving. God is sovereign and has predestined those he has chosen to be saved. Everything is in his control and he knows what will happen. Yet, we do not know precisely how he will have these plans develop, so we must cling to what has been made clear. We are commanded to share the gospel and continually stay ready to share this with anyone.

My experience of this film has sparked some sobering thoughts on planting seeds and has reimaged some passages of Romans. Knowledge is so key. If you share the gospel with someone, please know that you gave them the most important information possible. God, in his perfect wisdom, may have chosen their path to unfold in such a way that they will cling to your gospel words in their moment of deep desperation. Will they die without Christ if you do not take the time to build a relationship with them or show them the gospel? That is not your worry. Have a holy anxiety for their salvation and perseverance (as Paul did in Phil. 2:28) while working heartily to reach them in ways that have been clearly laid out in scripture. God does not depend on you, but does use you in his salvation plan.

Actively Share Knowledge

Inquire with sincerity. Take the time to see where people are coming from. I really think most of us would be surprised at how many positive responses we would get if we just asked. Consider even directly asking permission to have a spiritual conversation with someone over coffee, pizza, whatever.  Do you believe that God’s words are powerful? Powerful enough for the people you have in mind right now? Are you afraid they won’t respond quite like you had hoped?

If they reject the message, and even you, it is okay. Brothers and sisters around the world are even facing death themselves for asking and sharing. God commands that you simply share, and he is the one who will bring the miracle, the response. He is the one who “grants repentance.” Just make sure that what you are saying is true and trust that God will use his own words according to plan. Philemon 6 tells us that sharing our faith is for our benefit, too. It helps us gain a fuller understanding of what we have in Christ. In a book on evangelism, Mack Stiles recounts:

“Part of my weariness in evangelism is the constant focus on what is supposed to happen in others. When that is my focus and nothing seems to happen, I lose heart. But knowing that God works in me when I actively share my faith gives me hope even when no one responds positively to my efforts. In fact, I’m convinced that sharing our faith, regardless of the response, is a key to spiritual health for the individual and for the community.”

Who Needs to Hear and Know?

Would the people in my life likely think something like Ryan Stone if they had to look death in the face today? Would they try to utter a prayer, but not even know who God is or where to start? These possibilities are the sorts of things that should keep us up at night (prayerfully). Life is difficult and people struggle to figure out what it is all about and if they have a place in this world. People are searching, admittedly or not.

Initially, I was surprised at the possibility that people I knew would actually desire to cry out to God in desperation. Of course they would. We were designed for worship and a relationship with Christ. Every person is worshipping something and in need of that relationship. Even if people appear to be happy without salvation, I should not be deceived into giving up on them. Such judgment is left up to the Lord.

God, please forbid that any of my friends would face death one day and buckle in fear as they realize no one ever shared with them the clear answer to their inherent knowledge of sin.

And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?

 

Romans 1-2, 10
Romans 1-7 for You, Timothy Keller
Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus, J. Mack Stiles, 9Marks

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