I recently overheard someone say to another, “He’s gone religious on me,” as if they had done a bad thing. I suppose this happens to many of us when we come to faith in Jesus Christ. We lose a few beer drinking friends and are talked about behind our backs. But getting the title “Religious” for me is like getting awarded a purple heart. We get this award when we are wounded by direct or indirect enemy action. Just open your mouth and say, “Jesus is my Lord and Savior ” and you will for sure take on enemy fire. It’s an honored experience among true believers.
I have a friend that I’ve not seen in many years. He hasn’t been nice to his wife, drinks too much, and regularity fries his brain on weed. An opportunity to talk with him is imminent. So what do I say to him? Some will say I should just love on him. We all know that’s code for not telling him that his actions require repentance. They will say, “don’t judge him” for surely he’ll think you are a Jesus Freek and not listen to you anyway. In many cases they’re probably right. But that’s not how I think and I don’t think that’s biblical. Is it shameful to tell someone the most direct way to restore one’s marriage and clean up their life is through faith in Christ? The risk of being called “religious” behind my back is not so great a price here, is it? I can think of all the other ways to approach someone like my friend, but they are not foundational solutions, they’re more like a non stick bandaid. Get it wet and it falls off. My friend needs a change of heart. A change of heart is like the proverbial saying “If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” I think telling him the best way to reconcile and love his wife is to love Jesus. To love Jesus is to believe in Him and follow his teachings.
So what course will I take with my friend? In his case and given the opportunity, I will carefully begin by telling him that being a Christian is not a wimpy endeavor. In fact being a Christian takes courage. It means once you are fully trained and open your mouth you will surely take on incoming fire. Like Jesus and the Martyrs you could even be crucified, or burned at the stake. But the most likely outcome is that you get that loving feeling back, make some necessary adjustments with your wife, and others will say, he’s gone all “religious” on us. I think that’s a good trade off in itself. But wait, there’s more!” I’ll tell him Jesus will do a number on him by completely changing him for the better, and He will give him that little thing called eternal life.
So to my friends who say “just love on him.” Just loving on him means to me opening my mouth and telling him about Jesus. I will tell him about repentance and baptism, and obedience. I’ll tell him about warfare and spirtual armor. I’ll let him know that being a believer will be both a dangerous and courageous endeavor, if he goes all in. If he doesn’t go all in he may think he will have to give up being a man and doing “manly things.” I’ll tell him that won’t happen if reads his bible and prays. I will tell him he won’t have to self identify as a wimpy, weak hymn singing church pew if he comes to Christ. He won’t even be required to be a “nice guy.” Better yet, he will love this, he likely won’t have to go to a twelve step program to get clean and get his family back; the love of his life back. He will only need to take one step to receive the irresistible grace of God. To radically change his life forever he will only need to have faith that Jesus came, died for his sins, and rose again. I need to tell him this.