What is the hardest thing about being a Christian? Is it trying to follow the Ten Commandments? Is it going to church every week? How about tithing part of your hard-earned money to the church? Is it letting go of pride and admitting that you can’t earn your own salvation? Or maybe the hardest thing for you is just accepting that the answer could be so easy as to believe in Jesus?
For me, it’s none of these things. The hardest thing about being a Christian is caring about the salvation of unbelievers, especially those who are friends or family. I was talking to a friend about this today and she asked, “Why do you care whether others believe the same thing you do?” The answer was hard to put into words, which is probably why I started this post yesterday but couldn’t finish it. But after talking to her I realized I must finish this post because it is something every Christian who truly trusts in the saving grace of Jesus must be able to answer.
If you are an atheist, you don’t care whether anyone agrees with you. You believe that when you die, that’s the end, so it doesn’t matter what you believe.
If you are a Buddhist, you don’t care whether anyone agrees with you. You are unconcerned with whether there is a God in the Christian sense and believe that there are many paths to enlightenment and your own freedom from suffering is your primary goal.
If you are a Unitarian Universalist, you don’t mind that your family or friends believe something different from you do because you believe that all paths lead to God. Each person’s journey is unique and God will allow everyone who tries to be good into heaven.
If you are a Hindu, Pagan, or New Age you aren’t concerned about whether others believe as you do in this life. Because you believe in reincarnation there will always be another life and another opportunity to learn whatever lessons you don’t learn in this life. You also believe that there are many gods, do not put your trust in only one God, and do not expect others to necessarily trust in the same god or gods as you do.
But if you are Christian, you believe Jesus was telling the truth when He said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through me.” John 14:6. You believe that when each and every person dies they will face judgment before the One True God. In that judgment, if they are judged righteous because they have accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then they will go to heaven; but if they have chosen to earn their own way to heaven or find their own way to enlightenment, they will be judged unrighteous and will not enter into the presence of God in heaven.
So what is the answer to my friend’s question “Why do you care?” I care because if I am right, and my friends and family have not accepted the atoning sacrifice of Jesus, then my eternal life will be spent without them. I will be in the presence of my Lord and Savior as well as my fellow believers, but there will be people whom I love dearly missing.
Imagine you threw a big celebration and invited all of your family and friends. You invite them because you care whether they come and you will miss them if they do not attend. I believe heaven will be the celebration of a lifetime grander than any celebration we could ever conceive of in our limited human imaginations. I want all of my family and friends to be there.
There are days I wish I didn’t care. Quite frankly, today is one of those days. My heart aches from spending time with some unbelieving friends this weekend and reading Facebook posts by unbelieving family. If I didn’t care, then that ache would go away. But I do care, and it is the hardest thing for me to bear.