There seems to be an interesting phenomenon in the evangelical church today. There is a big push to get someone to the point of salvation, but it seems most evangelistic and outreach energy is spent leading people to that point and then leaving them. Saying yes to Jesus is not the goal, it is the beginning. Why else would Jesus say, “You must be born again.”? Birth is the beginning of life, not the end.
I am a big football (American football) fan. If you don’t know much about the game, two teams try to move the ball 100 yards (91.44 meters) by passing it or running it. You must do this in 10 yard (9.14 meter) segments. You have four chances to move the ball in this short segment. If you do it, you get four more chances to go another 10 yards, and so on, until you cross the goal line. If a team fails to go 10 yards, the ball becomes the other team’s. You don’t win without crossing the goal line.
Leading someone to Christ is very similar. You get chances time and again to minister (serve) to them. You have opportunity after opportunity to be a witness to them. Each of these is like the 10-yard segments on a football field. The problem is we stop and celebrate after someone decides to say yes to Jesus. We don’t continue to move through life continuing to minister and witness to these and encourage them to do the same. We think saying yes to Jesus is the goal. It is not! The goal is to make disciples of Jesus.
When we stop after someone gets saved, it is like giving up after crossing the starting line in a race. You don’t win. The person you are leading doesn’t win. Satan wins. Becoming born again is just the beginning of a lifelong race of challenges and rewards, of joy and heartaches, of spiritual highs and worldly lows. The Apostle Paul refers to this when he is nearing his end on the earth. He says, “I have run the race, working to the goal.” He spent his Christian life as a disciple of Jesus learning the gospel of Jesus and then teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus.
I urge you, friends, to continue on as Paul did. Continue running the race. Continue moving the ball downfield. Yes, there are difficult times and mountains of issues that Satan will put in our way as he tries to knock us off the path, but with each other, we can continue on God’s path of forgiveness, grace, love, and righteousness. It doesn’t end at saying yes to Jesus. It just begins.
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