Why is it so hard to reach religious people with the gospel? I’m talking about good, upright, moral, people? Perhaps you can recall times you engaged one of these individuals in conversation, and the door opened to share the gospel. But in the end, nothing happened. They said they have always believed in God all their life, and some even say they believe in Jesus. They do not express assurance of salvation like that of which I speak, but they seem to have enough to convince them they’re okay. Why is that?
Yesterday morning I stopped at a convenience store to buy a cup of coffee. I grabbed some change in the car (so I wouldn’t end up getting more change). I poured a small-sized coffee and headed to the checkout. I put my cup of coffee on the counter and reached for my wallet but came up empty since I had forgotten it at home. No wallet meant no cash or credit cards. I had a $1.29 cup of coffee and I couldn’t pay for it. I was embarrassed. I fumbled a bit and said I would have to go home and get my wallet. There was the cup of coffee sitting there and I didn’t know what to do with it. Just as I was going to ask the cashier if she would hold it there while I drove home to get my wallet, she said, “It’s on us.” I looked at her quizzically and she said, “The coffee is on us.” What that meant, though it took a moment to sink in, was that I did not have to pay for it. She was giving me the cup of coffee. I was pleasantly surprised, but it still left me feeling awkward because I knew the reason she was giving it to me was because I didn’t have enough money. Then I had this thought: “I wonder if she thinks I’m one of those people trying pulling one over on her, the old ‘I forgot my wallet’ routine to get something free.” So, I quickly gave her the 45-cents in my hand and said, “Here, take this, and thank you.” I insisted on doing something to prove I wasn’t a con man. I left the store, went home and got my wallet. I thought about returning to pay the remaining 84-cents, mostly to make myself look good. That is when it hit me — the cashier had said me, “the coffee is on us.” It was a gift that I was reluctant to accept because I felt like it made me look bad. But you know what? You don’t repay gifts, only debts. When she said, “It’s on us,” she was erasing the debt and giving me a gift. Yet, my first response wasn’t to accept it because I felt “too good” about myself to do that.
On the cross, Jesus says to sinners, “It’s on me. You don’t have to pay.” But most people still think they do. Why? Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick” (Luke 5:31). Healthy people see no personal need for a doctor. Jesus went on to say, “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:32). Those who are righteous have nothing for which to repent. Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). If you don’t think you’re lost, you see no need of being found. That is why it is hard for good, moral, responsible people to be saved. It is not impossible — look at the example of the Apostle Paul. It’s just not easy. A $1.29 gift reminded me of how difficult my own pride made it to accept a simple gift. Why would I think it would be easy for a good person to acknowledge their sin and need for help?
I am grateful for the kindness of the cashier. I plan to stop in and purchase a large cup of coffee as a way of showing my appreciation for her kindness to me.