A long way from faith

Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
— Mark 12:34 ESV

Last week I had a conversation with a friend who has a friend who is a long way from faith. My friend was discouraged and perplexed as the recent election -- for whatever reason -- has made dialoging about the faith more difficult.

Have you been there? Have you ever felt there was an " insurmountable distance" between your friend and a relationship with Jesus? I sure have!

These days I'm taking heart from a brief line in Os Guinness' book, Fools Talk: Recovering The Art Of Christian Persuasion. Os was was talking about Francis Schaeffer. Here is the passage:

And Francis Schaeffer was quite simply the most brilliant and compassionate face-to-face apologist I have ever met. I often watched him when I was younger, but his modeling the art was always far greater than his teaching on it. Many of those who did not know him but look to his books alone have either been wooden in their application or have become so engrossed in discussions about the theory of apologetics that they rarely get round to doing what he did so well--actually leading people to faith, some of them starting a long, long way from faith.

Schaeffer often started with people who were "a long, long way from faith." Whether your friend is "not far from the Kingdom of God" or "a long, long way from faith," taking time to do what Schaeffer did . . . to do what Jesus did is critical. We have to talk with people "face-to-face."

Os Guinness reminded me of the importance of meeting people where they are. Here are few insights from this very insightful man and his very helpful book:

  1. "Jesus never spoke to two people the same way, and neither should we."
  2. "Every single person is unique and individual and deserves an approach that respects that uniqueness."
  3. "Jesus said that his followers were to be 'fishers of men,' so it is people, not arguments, that we should be winning."
  4. "Christian persuasion is a matter of cross talk, not of clever talk."

Guinness' emphasis on "cross talk" reminds me of the words of David Nicholas. David told me often, "Tommy, the power is not in me. The power is not in you. The power is in the gospel."

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
— Romans 1:16 ESV

Since the gospel message and Christian persuasion "is a matter of cross talk, not of clever talk" as Guinness notes, one thing that can help is strengthening my understanding of the validity of the gospel message. 

This Saturday (November 19) and Sunday (November 20), Spanish River Church is hosting J. Warner Wallace. Wallace is a cold-case homicide detective and an apologist. He will be sharing his story of how, as an atheist, his study of the gospels revealed compelling evidence that he could not ignore.

If you are in the vicinity, join us. I believe you will find J. Warner Wallace a breath of fresh air and a helpful friend as you seek to help your friends -- near or far from the kingdom -- come a step closer to Christ.  Here's a brief video from Wallace about his work:

You can find out more on this event by clicking here.


  1. "And Francis Schaeffer was quite simply ..." from Fool's Talk: Recovering The Art Of Christian Persuasion," by Os Guinness. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 2015. Page 37.
  2. Other quotes from Fools Talk.