You are walking down a sidewalk on your way to a mildly important date, when a nice-looking man stops you to tell you about a door. He tells you about the perfection of the door, it's perfect functionality, and best of all - going through it is only $15!
Your first casual attempt to get on with your date spurs the nice man to greater sales efforts. He begins extolling the fact that the door is really real, and that everyone who goes through it has a better tomorrow. He's so obviously sincere that you are quite moved. If only you didn't already have a previous engagement, you'd go trip the light fantastic with him and his door, but as it is you must be going.
The amazing thing is that anyone goes through the door at all, but millions do.
Imagine again the man stopping you, but this time he explains the virtues of high art and that the whole treasure of Renoir's life work is right through that art museum door for only $15.
Do you think the second approach might be more effective?
I get so discouraged when I listen to evangelism. Our gifted men keep talking about salvation - the door - instead of talking about Christ - the Treasure.
The love of God came to earth in human form, and we don't tell about Him. We try to prove He was Who He said He was, leaving unsaid the truth of Who He was. We try to prove Jesus was God, without telling Who God is.
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This story provides a possible entry into salvation for anyone, but how to use it? What is the carrot that will draw the soul to God? The door through which the sinner must pass is believing that Jesus is God, but it is what is beyond that door that will draw him.
Often, we tell how amazing was what Jesus did in raising Lazarus, but how often do we tell how amazing Jesus was?
Jesus was God in skin. When we see Jesus, we are not looking at a wonderful man, but at God's very heart pounding like a drum. We watch in Jesus the Father and the Spirit trudging through the sand of Palestine and paying the price of love for the fallen. When we watch Jesus, we learn Who our God is.
God wept over Lazarus. God knew Lazarus and wept to know Lazarus had suffered and had died. God cared about Lazarus by name and heart and familiar quirks. God and Lazarus were friends. God also was the fountain of life that had created Lazarus and that would raise him and that was overjoyed to do so. And God was a hard enough worker to do everything necessary to make that happen. God would go to the cross, and one day God will raise Lazarus again forever.
God gets personal with His children.
But God also was willing for Lazarus to die. His ways are not ours and as surely as Jesus suffered, He was willing to allow Lazarus to suffer. John reports that Jesus, God, intentionally delayed His coming for two days so that He did not arrive until four days after his death. We can also be sure that God knew soon enough Lazarus was dying to have prevented the whole issue, but God was willing to see everything happen as it did. God loved Lazarus, and yet God was willing to allow Lazarus to suffer and die.
God gets personal with His children while allowing them to suffer.
Do you want to understand the mystery of life? Of why you are here? Of why all this is happening? Do you want to know the God Who loves you as much and as intimately as He knew Lazarus? the God Who cares that you are going bald? the God Who wants to raise you from the dead?
You'll have to pay the price and enter through this certain door. If you're curious, I can tell you about it.