If our most sophisticated understanding of the path to faith says that our neighbor is either a Christian (“on”) or not a Christian (“off”), then we tend to have just as unsophisticated a response to them. If they aren’t a Christian, well, it’s time to pull out our evangelism shotgun to try to force the switch to the “on” position. That’s what it means to “do evangelism,” after all. (Which tends to explain why we so rarely engage in evangelism.)
From distrust to trust
First, our friends moved from distrust to trust. Somewhere along the line, they learned to trust a Christian. Mark was guarded and aloof. He did not trust us Christians. This kept him far away from exploring Jesus with us. It was impossible for him to shed that distrust. But then something wonderful and mysterious happened, and Mark crossed this threshold.
From complacent to curious.
Second, they moved from complacent to curious. The fact that our friends actually came to trust a Christian didn’t necessarily mean that they were at all curious about Jesus. Matthew, for example, had started trusting a Christian but was pretty uninterested in Jesus. Matthew was successful and had everything going for him and had no reason at all to be curious about Jesus. But then something wonderful and mysterious happened, and Matthew crossed this threshold.
Closed to change to being open to change
Third, our friends moved from being closed to change to being open to change in their life. Interestingly, this always seemed to be the hardest threshold to cross not for all of them but for most of them. Abner, for example, had started trusting some Christians and was even asking questions about Jesus. He was very curious. But he had no interest at all in examining his personal life. That was off limits. But then something wonderful and mysterious happened, and Abner crossed this threshold.
Meandering to seeking
The fourth threshold is the move from meandering to seeking. Even when our friends became curious about Jesus and open to change in their life, it didn’t necessarily follow that they began actively, purposefully seeking God. It was more natural for them to meander. Steve, for example, was very intrigued after some Christian students (whom he met sleeping in cardboard boxes at an event to raise awareness and dollars for the homeless) talked with him about Jesus. Steve accepted invitations to Bible studies, worship and even to a mission trip to Mexico. But he wasn’t necessarily wanting to come to conclusions, to really seek answers. But then something wonderful and mysterious happened, and Steve crossed this threshold.
Into the kingdom
Finally, each of our friends had one more threshold to cross. They needed to cross the threshold of the kingdom itself. They needed to repent and believe and give their life to Jesus. Many people who journey well along the path to faith, learning to trust a Christian, becoming curious about Jesus, becoming open to personal change, even seeking after answers, never become Christians. Sarah might have been one of those folks. She was interested in Jesus, loved her new Christian friend and even went to conferences and Bible studies. But she was a scientist and couldn’t imagine becoming a person of faith not without physical proof. But then something wonderful and mysterious happened, and Sarah crossed the threshold into the kingdom itself.