This plays itself out quite often. Someone brings up “the reason for the season,” and someone else is convinced that He never existed. The church person will go post or talk to their friends about how “people just refuse to see.” They just refuse to understand. They just don’t get it. Why don’t they just get it? They ask why people won’t even attempt to understand what “we” believe in, and see that it’s true!
I’m not going to contradict its truth. I absolutely believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of a living, omnipotent, loving, wonderful, gracious, and all-powerful God. I believe that Jesus, in light of the inborn sin of humanity, willingly died on a cross in our place and took on the punishment that we rightly deserved, because he is gracious and forgiving and He loves us. But I keep hearing this question from Christians over, and over, and over. Why don’t they just open their eyes and see that it’s true? Why don’t they get it?
But here’s a question: Did you?
People experience salvation in different ways, depending on the person, but most stories fall into one of two categories. In the first category, we have the story that goes like this: One day, you were happily (or maybe unhappily) living your life, God-free, and suddenly you were convicted of the Truth, and you fell down on your knees with the overwhelming power of it, and only then did you begin to explore the vastness of His majesty and grace, and discover Him. But what it took was that initial force knocking you down.
The second story goes something like this: You began to question. You have an inquisitive nature, and you were drawn to find out the truth, once and for all. Or maybe it was something else that led you to explore the Christian God. But you began, and after much research and exploration, and hours spent devoted to figuring out if this was the Truth, you finally felt it. And you fell down on your knees, finally understanding.
Different people have different stories. But whichever way you experienced salvation, it had very, very little to do with you, and it had everything to do with God’s active pursuit of you through whatever means necessary. And who, other than the one who created you, could better understand the means that would be necessary?
So back to that pesky question: Why don’t they get it?
People don’t get it because they’re living in darkness. Not necessarily by conscious choice, but because the shackles of sin keep them there. Just like those shackles kept you there before that moment when you fell down on your knees, which was, absolutely, God’s work and not yours. When we ask questions like “Why won’t they just open their eyes?” we ignore the requisite presence of God, and the necessary power of God over sin, and we turn it into a question of our own willpower over those shackles. But our will is shackled to the sin, along with the rest of us. It can’t break them.
When we ask “Why don’t they get it?” it put us in some kind of special, superior position as compared to the person whom we are deeming a “sinner” incapable of “getting it.” It completely ignores the power of the gospel, and makes us seem like we’re somehow superior, even though, before (or unless) God acted in our lives, we were just the same. And we still are the same except that God chose to save us, and Jesus covered our sins. You’re not special because of anything you did, it’s because of what He chose to do. This question “Why don’t they get it?” says “I used my own power to break the bonds of sin, and God was only an accessory, or a prize that I sought. I found the truth on my own, so these people should be able to as well.” And that’s not salvation, nor does that glorify God in any way.
The Truth is not something that the people in question once understood fully, and knew, and yet chose to forget or ignore. They did not experience the power and the love and the truth of Christ, and simply say, “Eh, that’s not for me.” Because how is it possible to encounter the love of Christ and not display it? It isn’t possible. If you have not experienced it, then you can’t display it. So they don’t get it because they never knew it.
The thing is, God could be doing 10,000 things in anyone’s life at any given time, and they might only be aware of 3 of them. By the time you come to them, befriend them, build a relationship, and begin to show them Jesus, God was already there, working. He’s been there for their entire life, working. And they never knew it until years down the line, maybe decades. So can we please stop asking “Why don’t they get it?” as if we’re superior, enlightened beings, and instead ask ourselves, “How can I be showing this person the truth of Jesus through humility and grace?”