How we respond to an encounter with Jesus says a lot about the state of our heart.
We can look to the story of Mary Magdalene’s first encounter with a risen Jesus to see an example of exactly how we should respond. In John 20, it says Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb and went “running to Simon Peter.” After she saw Jesus, she went directly to the disciples to tell them everything.
When Mary Magdalene encountered Jesus risen in the empty tomb, she had to testify! Do you feel this intense need to testify? Do you long to tell the lost about the good news of Jesus?
Jesus’ purpose was the same. Luke 4:43 tells us he came to seek and save that which was lost and to go to the nearby towns and do the same.
Our loved ones may die without knowing Jesus simply because no one ever told them. We must have the courage and urgency to run to them the same way Mary Magdalene ran to Simon Peter.
But the good news of Jesus is unchanging. So how do we bear witness to people of different backgrounds?
Some of us may have people in our lives who used to go to church or previously had a close relationship with God but now have drifted away. In Luke 15, the parable of the prodigal son shows us God’s heart for people who have drifted.
This parable is about a son who asked his father for his inheritance early. The father gave it to him and immediately, the son left and squandered his wealth. At his lowest, he thought perhaps he could get a job as a servant in his father’s house. So, he got up and went.
The Bible says that while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and ran to him. The son didn’t even have a chance to beg, he was immediately welcomed home.
God truly is the good father who wraps his arms around the prodigal son, loves him, meets him where he is and welcomes him to come back home. No begging needed.
If there are people in your life who are similar to this prodigal son, focus on sharing the grace and love of God. He wants to welcome them back home.
The book of James talks about how God deals with religious people. In the Gospels, there are many accounts of Jesus encountering religious rule followers, known as “Pharisees”, that didn’t believe in the Messiah.
Maybe you have people in your life who appear religious but don’t know Jesus. Maybe they follow the Ten Commandments but don’t love others. Maybe they even read and know their Bibles but they don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
I want to encourage you to find a time to get together with them and simply ask them about their faith journey. Something happens when we take a genuine interest in others and hear their stories.
It’s from that place where we can talk about how Jesus offers freedom from religion.
Every other religion on earth calls humanity to do good things to get to God. The difference with Jesus is that he reveals God’s perfection and our inability to do enough. Jesus, then, does on our behalf what we were powerless to do by dying on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins.
If you have friends or family that follow strict religious guidelines but lack a genuine faith and relationship in Jesus, listen to their story and share yours. Show them the freedom from religion that you found in Jesus.
You may also know people in your life who are a little discouraged right now. Perhaps they are weary or depressed.
The good news is that God isn’t looking for perfect people. In fact, he’s looking for broken people, for people humble enough to know they need help.
In Matthew 11, Jesus tells us that if you are weary or burdened to come to him and he will give you rest. He longs to give us rest and to comfort us in trying times because he’s a good father.
All of us came out of the last season a little beat up. Whether due to economic uncertainty, job changes, loss of loved ones or the global pandemic, most of us were feeling sad and discouraged. But God loves to meet people in their pain. He suffered on our behalf, so he understands.
Reach out to people in your life who are hurting right now. Don’t worry about finding the right words. Sometimes all people need is someone who cares. Tell them you love them and that God is for them. Show them the Jesus that suffers for and with them. Remind them that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
I hope you are reminded of the immense love God has for you and encouraged to share your faith with those in your world. Once we have encountered the risen Jesus, how can we not run to others? Together, we can set the world free by the power of his love.
Pulse is a Minneapolis-based, millennial-led prayer and evangelism movement on mission to make Jesus known. For over a decade, Pulse has hosted some of the largest events for the next generation, impacting over five million students and young adults.
Nick Hall is the founder and president of Pulse and a leading international evangelist. He holds a position on the Board of Directors Executive Committee of the National Association of Evangelicals. He is the author of Reset: Jesus Changes Everything.