There are times when my own lack of faith frustrates me.
Recently, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a young man seated on a plane next to me. I got to ask him some questions about his beliefs and where he is in areas of faith. When I left the plane and headed toward baggage claim, I thought to myself, There’s no way this guy will ever come to Christ. He had expressed extreme disdain and hatred toward the church. So, I prayed for him and asked the Lord to show Himself to this young man – but I’m not sure I really believed that this young man would ever come to Jesus.
And that’s where my frustration comes into the picture.
The next morning I was reading in Luke 8 and came across the account of the demon-possessed man who lived among the tombs in the region of Gerasenes (Luke 8:26-38). Suddenly my lack of faith stared me directly in the face. Because of his condition, the demon-possessed man had been bound and shackled, only to break out of the restraints to return to the deserted places. He literally spent his days in solitude.
He was likely well-known in this region. My guess is that everyone had given up on him.
But then the man encountered Jesus and the entire direction of his life changed.
“Then the people went out to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and found the man the demons had departed from,
sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind. And they were afraid.
Meanwhile, the eyewitnesses reported to them how the demon-possessed man was delivered.” (Luke 8:35-36)
My heart sank. I’d already given up on the young man I met the day before because of his conclusions and strong disbelief. However, my new friend had never truly encountered Jesus—and Jesus can change everything. After all, Scripture tells us that Matthew, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman at the well, and a guy named Paul all seemed to have no hope before they met Christ.
I’ve been challenged over the past few days to think of and pray for those people in my life that I have given up on for some reason. Let’s face it, as ministry leaders there are many young adults in our communities that we may have marked off the list of being “reachable.”
Let’s never give up on those young adults who seem so far away from a relationship with Christ.
- Pray for them by name.
Since my reading the account in Luke of the man everyone had given up on, I have been reminded daily of the young man I met on the plane and his need for Jesus. I’ve have prayed for him by name each day. Most likely, I’ll never see this young man again. However, I’m THANKFUL for the hour and a half we had on a plane together and for the opportunity to tell him about Jesus and why following Him has been the most important decision I’ve ever made. I’ll continue to pray for him to encounter Jesus in his journey.
- Meet them where they are.
Jesus met people right in the middle of their mess and unbelief. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I can’t be afraid to meet people in the same places. There is no way I can expect for an unbeliever to have complete understanding of what forgiveness and grace looks like from the beginning, but I must be patient and meet them where they are. For those that I see often, meeting them where they are and continuing to voice the Gospel is crucial.
- Don’t ever give up.
There are young adults who have never had anyone consistently share the Gospel with them. Continue believing that God has a plan for this young adult and that He will continue to reveal Himself to them through your authentic relationship with them and through other Christ-followers that they know. Don’t give up on them—it’s not an option.
I’m thankful for the young adults that God continues to bring into my life – both followers of Christ and unbelievers. And I’m reminded that Jesus continues to transform lives of individuals that many have seemingly given up on. May my faith be grown by that continual reminder!
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark on Twitter: @MarkWhitt70.