Jesus himself did not try to convert the two thieves on the cross; he waited until one of them turned to him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Meditation: When Christians misunderstand the New Testament as “a marching order to convert everybody they meet to Christ”, this behavior often feels to those pursued as manipulative, boundary violating and obsessive. Those who are trying to convert others often believe that they have to “save those from hell”. At times those converting Christians seem to have a real fear that unless they “lead” a certain amount of people “to Christ”, they themselves might “go to hell”. However, this fear based religious behavior does not resemble the way Jesus approached others. Nothing that we learn about Jesus includes behavior based on fear, manipulation or obsession. Jesus usually just lives his trust in a loving and compassionate God and others begin turning to him. Why do we Christians choose a fear based religion if we can follow the example of Jesus? Let us wait patiently for others to be attracted to the way of living and loving that Jesus invited us to.
Prayer: Gracious God, we are deeply grateful that the life of Jesus was built not on fear, but on love. We are grateful that he believed in Paradise as a place united with You, and that he did not threaten anybody with going to “hell”. Thank You that just turning toward You opens up for us Your Grace, Your forgiveness and acceptance. Let us realize that we cannot manipulate, threaten, pursue or force others to believe in You. Thank You that we can follow Your lead as You patiently wait until we humans trust You and turn toward You without any fear and without any coercion. Amen
“And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when you come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with me in Paradise.” Luke 23:40-43 (NASB)