Why Don't People Become Christians?

Article written by Andrew Smellie, published in our October 28, 2007 bulletin:

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers (and sisters) live together in unity.” Psalm 133:1

Article: “Why Don’t People Become Christians?”

Good morning and welcome to our Campus and Teen Service! Thank you for joining us today. If you are our guest this morning, I have a question for you to consider: Why Don’t People Become Christians? You may have already developed a viewpoint about this question based on your past experiences. My name is Andrew Smellie, and my wife Patrique and I have the joy of serving the Central New York Church of Christ as its Evangelist and Women’s Ministry Leader. I grew up in a “religious” household, yet lived a hypocritical life before studying the Bible seriously during my junior year at Cornell University. In my experience I noticed that many “religious” people were self-righteous and hypocritical. After studying the Bible with friends from this church, I was inspired by their commitment to God’s Word, the diversity of the fellowship, and their sacrifice to travel 1.5 hours from Syracuse, NY to Ithaca, NY to study the Bible with me consistently. That was over seven years ago, and my life has been forever changed for the better. Hopefully my personal study from the Bible in answering the above question will help you to see the obstacles the Devil wants to put in your path to knowing God. Let’s jump in! From my experience, there are three major issues most people have that stop them from becoming Christians:

But before we tackle that issue–we have great news to share . . . Sandra Geysi got baptized!!

woman getting baptized.
Group baptismal picture.

ISSUE #1: People love traditions rather than the truth of God’s Word.

“He (Jesus) replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “ ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are by rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” And he said to them: “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions!” – Mark 7:6-9

Jesus called people who blindly followed their tradition hypocrites! That defines my life. I called myself a “Christian”, but my life didn’t reflect a commitment to God’s word. I could talk a good game, but my life was not one of true integrity. I grew up going to church; I prayed; I “praised God”; but it was just a tradition that I had fallen into because my family went to church. My heart was far from God. My experience was a “Sunday Christianity” and nothing else. In my experience as an organist before going to college, I saw that a lot of people went to churches that made them “feel good”, or because it had a good choir, or a flamboyant preacher. Others went to churches because their family grew up in those churches. The more I studied the Bible wholeheartedly, I discovered that God’s expectation was for us was to be part of a fellowship that preached the Word of God in its fullness, and had the expectation for every member to live the life of a true disciple of Jesus (Acts 2:42-47). Instead of living in an empty shell of traditions, I would allow God’s Word to lead my heart in obeying the truth.

ISSUE #2: People love praise from men rather than praise from God.

“Yet at the same time many even among the (Jewish) leaders believed in him (Jesus). But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” – John 12:42-43

It is interesting to note that because of the pride of the Jewish leaders, those who “believed” in Jesus were unwilling to share their beliefs because they succumbed to peer pressure of other “religious” people (Pharisees). Persecution is always present for a true disciple of Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12-13). Persecution will always come in a world that is ignorant of the truth and love of God, but persecution from religious people can even be more intense! It can come in the form of a friend, a former minister, or a family member. Once you decide to stop conforming to a world of relativism, the truth shines bright and can be blinding to others who are stuck in their traditional viewpoints! In a world where “what is right for me and what is right for you” have equal validity, it is both refreshing and disruptive to believe in an absolute truth! As a result, expecting people to obey and break the social norms of Christianity by making the Bible an absolute can lead to being persecuted. Sadly, people are often afraid to leave their comfortable religious environment for the truth because of the hurt it may cause their friends or family. Jesus stated that such a person is not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:34-39). For me, I knew I needed to decide to base my life on the truth of God’s Word instead of the opinions of friends and family. My love for God must supercede my love for anyone else. How else can I give the people I love an opportunity to know the truth and so be saved?

ISSUE #3: People love sin, rather than the righteousness of God.

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” – John 3:19-21

Have you ever been in a dark room and had someone abruptly turn a light on in your face? You immediately shy away from it! In the same way, the world runs away or argues with people who are committed disciples of Jesus out of fear that their own deeds will be exposed. I remember the deceit, impurity, and immorality that were blatantly evident in my life before becoming a disciple of Jesus. To my shame I would justify, rationalize, and hide my sin, even though I saw the pain and hurt it caused to others in the world. I claimed to love God, but by my actions I denied Him (Titus 1:16). My sin, both of commission and omission, were obvious and terrible in the eyes of God (Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; James 4:17). I had to decide to deny my sinful nature daily, keeping my eyes fixed on Jesus, so that I would stop living a life of deceit and darkness and start walking as Jesus did (Luke 9:23-26; 1 John 2:3-6).

Some of you here today may be blocked by these issues from having a relationship with God. The good news is that you can change if you are humble! I want to challenge you to give up your traditions, stop worrying so much about what people think, and leave your sins behind you as you starting living like Jesus! In this world of confusion and pain, we are either part of the solution, part of the problem, or part of the landscape. I pray that you will be part of the solution by applying the truth of God’s Word to your life. Decide today!

In His Service,

Andrew & Patrique Smellie
Evangelist & Women’s Ministry Leader