A key tenet of Christian theology abides that Jesus Christ died for all of humanity. Still we understand that not all will enter by “the narrow gate..leading to life” (Matt 7:13-14), meaning while Christ died for all, not all will follow Jesus here in life and eventually to heaven. This year it came to me that through experience I have learned that there are at least three conditions (“good soil” Matt 13:23) necessary for a person, especially an adult, to come to and keep faith in Christ. I have used these as a way to challenge people and get them thinking. Sometimes to keep things lighthearted, I have said “there are actually three qualifications to becoming a Christ-follower; not everyone can be a Christian so let me see if you qualify. May I ask you three questions?”
1. Are you a sinner? I am sorry, but to be a Christian, you must be a sinner! Clearly a person must repent as a condition of coming to Christ. If they cannot see themselves as a sinner they cannot be a Christian. This really gets the attention of people who think Christians are people who believe they are not sinners and everyone else is!
2. Are you interested in the Truth? To be a Christian you must be interested in the truth or at the very least willing to inquire about it. I like this condition because it gets out in the open the fact that many people are dishonest skeptics; unwilling to appropriate the truth even when they stumble upon it, because it requires sacrifice, change or admitting they might be wrong. Jesus came to bring “grace and truth” (John 1:17) so if you cannot accept this truth you cannot become a Christian.
3. Do you have courage? To be a Christian you have to be courageous. When a person comes to understand something completely different about themselves or the world, it takes courage to adjust one’s life to this new reality. To follow Christ is a new and wonder-filled life but it is also “hard” as we go through the “narrow gate” (Matt 7: 13-14).