Each of us as believers probably have family and friends who have yet to trust Christ for eternal life. We share with them when we can but we also pray that God will bring other Christians across their path who will help move them to a decision for Christ. It often takes a whole chain of people to bring someone to that place where they receive Christ as personal Savior. Each of the links in that chain are essential in that person’s coming to salvation.
Obviously God has to do the work of drawing someone to Himself (Jn. 6:37), but He uses human links in the chain that draw them. The Apostle Paul said, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. We are God’s fellow workers” (I Cor. 3:6-9). Some plant the seeds of God’s Word in a person’s heart, others water it with their deeds of love done in Jesus’ name, still others cultivate through their interaction with the person. Then God the Holy Spirit works in the heart that the seed germinates and the person is regenerated, born into the family of God. That part only God can do. We can’t save anyone, but we each play a role in others coming to that place where they trust Christ.
As I have been contemplating that process, I wonder how often I have been a “missing link” in the chain of people who help someone to cross over from death to life (cf Jn. 5:24)? It is not by chance that God puts people into our lives. If they are believers, we have a responsibility to encourage them in their walk with God, to help them grow in faith and love and become all God wants them to be. If they are nonbelievers, we have a responsibility to show them Christ and if given the opportunity to tell them about His love and forgiveness through Christ. We may not get to be the one who has the joy of leading them to their decision for Christ, but we should help them closer to that step, not push them in the opposite direction. Our interaction with them will nudge them in one of two directions, either further into their unbelief and rejection, or closer to making the choice to put their trust in Jesus.
God puts people into our lives in many ways: by locating them next to where we live, having us work with them, shop where they work, go to them for a service (plumber, electrician, doctor, etc), through our hobbies or recreation, and on and on. All of these people are currently either headed to heaven or hell. If it is heaven, we can have fellowship with them, and encourage them in their walk with God. If it is hell they are bound for, we can be a testimony to them of the grace of God in our lives by showing them what a difference He makes. What if we are harsh or dishonest in our dealings with them? Well, we are confirming them in their unsaved condition, not pointing them to Christ. And we will be accountable for our influence on them. What a sobering thought as I think of my testimony before the people God has placed in my life. Which way have I influenced each one of them?
I have interacted with a number of unsaved folks–you probably have too–who claim that they aren’t interested in Christianity because of Christians they have known. That doesn’t make them inexcusable before God, but it may really be the reason they haven’t seriously considered Christianity for themselves. C. S. Lewis, put it in these words: “Christians are the best argument both for and against Christianity.” I believe he is “spot on,” because our lives as believers are a showcase before the unsaved and are pointing them either toward or away from Christ by how we live before them and by how we treat them. A Christian should not ashamed of the Gospel (Ro. 1:16) nor a shame to the Gospel. Jesus said that we are to be salt and light, and that we are to “Let our light shine before men in such a way that they may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16).
Think about your relationships with those that God has placed in your life right now through various avenues. Have you been an encouragement to those who are already Christians? Have you been a positive testimony to those who are yet unsaved, influencing them to seriously consider Christianity? If you haven’t been, it would be good to ask for their forgiveness to re-open the door of witness to them.