Who is a good prospect for the gospel of Christ? I have to admit, I find myself culling some because I think, "They won't respond." I guess there is a tendency for all of us to exclude those who don't have the same lifestyle as us, or the same skin color, or the same economic background, perhaps not the same basic moral standards as us.
What kind of person did Jesus consider a good prospect for his word? Jesus did not limit himself to any one group. In fact, he appealed to many people that we would not consider as conventional church people. Jesus taught this lesson in Luke 14:12-14.
Then He also said to him who invited Him, "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. 13 But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. 14 And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."
Jesus is saying that we should reach beyond those we usually think of as "good prospects." Jesus practiced what he preached, too. Look at some examples of people that Jesus reached out to.
Jesus reached out early in his ministry to teaching someone who was not a "good prospect." This was the Samaritan woman in John 4. Everyone could see that she was not a fit subject for Jesus" words. She wasn't even of the same race as Jesus. More than that, she was a Samaritan, a mixed race (John 4:9). On top of this, she wasn't even a particularly good Samaritan. Jesus knew that she had been married five times and was currently living with a man (John 4:16-18). But Jesus knew that she was worth reaching with the good news of salvation.
Then there was the little man up in a tree, Zacchaeus (Luke 19:2-8). Zacchaeus was a tax collector, and was hated by his own people, for being allied to the Romans and as a thief. Tax collectors in Jesus' day were allowed to exact as much money as they could squeeze out of their subjects and keep all above what the Romans levied.
But Jesus saw potential in this little man who climbed up into the tree to see him. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house(Luke 19:5). This concern for Zacchaeus' soul paid off. He repented and followed Jesus (verses 8-9).
Finally there was the woman caught in the act of adultery. In John 8 Jesus was presented with the question of how to treat this woman caught committing adultery. The Law of Moses directed that one convicted of adultery be stoned to death (John 8:5). But Jesus understood that her accusers had the wrong motive in mind when they brought her to him, hoping to trip him up (where was the man in this situation where she was caught in the act). Jesus did not condemn her without any hope of restoration. His words, "go and sin" no more" (verse 11) show a savior who grants forgiveness but challenges her to start a new life of righteousness.
What do we see when we meet people? Do we first look to see whether they are "like us" before we try to teach them the gospel or invite them to the services of the church? Or do we see a soul which needs salvation? Do we simply see them as they are, with sin and immorality, or do we see what a person can become. Do we really have faith in the power of the gospel? "And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God" (1 Corinthians 6:11). We have forgotten that people don't come to Jesus needing to just work on a problem or two but as sinners lost without the gospel . What do you see when you meet someone who is not a Christian?
Copyright 2000 by Grady Scott may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes at no cost to others.