In our disciple making we have discovered that most people have one major issue that is keeping them from powerful faith in Jesus. When we go to make disciples, we are depending on the Holy Spirit to make known to us what that issue is. He may supernaturally reveal it to us or He may make it known to us through the conversation we are having with the person we are with. Our responsibility is to help them see the role this issue/these issues are playing in their lives. There are many biblical examples of this. Four that we focus on are:
1. Nicodemus - Found in John 3, Nicodemus was a religious leader in Jerusalem. He came to Jesus at night saying it is obvious Jesus is from God because of the signs He was doing. Jesus responded, "Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus wrestled with this. His major issue was his religion. His Judaism had become very moral. If a person had righteous acts they had a relationship with God. So he sought to live his life with great morality. Jesus said he needed to be completely born again by the Holy Spirit. Nicodemus walked away perplexed. His issue was his religion.
2. The Woman at the Well - In John 4, Jesus was walking through Samaria when He came to a well to get water. He engaged a woman there in conversation. She had several issues keeping her from Jesus. One was race. Jews and Samaritans did not talk to each other. It took Jesus, a Jew, initiating the conversation with her for that issue to be overcome. Her second issue was morality. She had been married five times. In spite of this, Jesus offered her living water. Her third issue was her religion. She was raised believing that Samaritans worship on one mountain while Jews worship on another. Jesus corrected her saying, "Salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth." She gave her life to Him!
3. The Rich, Young Ruler - A man runs up to Jesus and drops down at His feet in Luke 18:18-27. This man is rich, he is young, and he has standing in the community. He asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus tells him to obey the commandments and lists five of them. Remarkably, the man says he has kept all of them. Then Jesus says, "One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." His issue was his possessions. Scripture records that the man became very sad for he was extremely rich.
4. Zaccheus - Zaccheus was a tax collector. Tax collectors were notorious cheats - counted among the lowest in culture. Jesus entered into Jericho. Zaccheus, a short fella, climbed a tree to see Jesus. Jesus called him by name and said, "...come down, for today I must stay at your house." Zaccheus obeyed. When they got to Zaccheus' house, he said to Jesus, "Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much." Zaccheus' issue was money. He surrendered it and followed Jesus!
These stories illustrate the need to deal with the major issues people have that keep them from surrendering their lives to Jesus. It is important to notice with both Nicodemus and the rich, young, ruler that Jesus did not pursue them. He did not continually meet with them hoping that one day they would surrender. He treated them like responsible adults. He told them what they needed to do and then walked on to others.
Led of the Holy Spirit, in the love of our Father, we must help people discover what the issues are keeping them from faith. If they choose to surrender - Amen! However, if they choose to hold on to their issues, we need to lovingly, respectfully walk away. If they come to a place they are ready to surrender, God will bring them back to you or to another.