John 1:46 (ESV)
Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
A number of years ago, there was a woman in Kansas City who walked into a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop. While she was waiting in line, she turned around to find actor Paul Newman standing behind her. He was in town filming the movie Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, and he didn’t realize it, but he was standing behind one of his biggest fans.
Paul Newman smiled at her and said "hello." She took one look at those blue eyes and her knees almost buckled. She tried to speak, but nothing came out. Mortified, she turned back around, paid for her ice cream, then quickly walked out of the store.
When she was outside, she sat down on a bench and took a moment to catch her breath. As she calmed down, she realized she didn't have her ice cream cone. She was getting ready to walk back in to get it when Paul Newman walked out. He asked her, "Are you looking for your ice cream cone?" She was still speechless but she nodded. He said, "You put it in your purse with your change."
There are some people who hold such great significance in our lives, that meeting them affects us in a powerful way. But if a celebrity or an athlete can have that kind of effect on people, just imagine how much difference it would make in a person’s life to come face-to-face with Jesus Christ!
Think of the difference made in the lives of the Samaritan woman, the man possessed by a multitude of demons, Zaccheus, James and John, the lame man by the pool of Bethesda, the paralytic lowered by his four friends, Saul (later known as Paul), the woman caught in adultery, the blind man, the leper, the thief on the cross, and countless others.
There's was a popular video that made its rounds on Youtube entitled, "Why I Hate Religion But Love Jesus". There is much I like about the video and some that I don't like. Religion is not the problem; false religion (hypocrisy) is. Many people fail to realize that Jesus was a religious person himself! But, it is true that religion (in and of itself) cannot save us; Jesus can. Religion cannot change our hearts; Jesus can. Religion cannot empower us to live holy lives; Jesus can.
Our goal as Christians should not be to get people to follow a religion. Our goal should be to bring people to Jesus, to let them see him for themselves, and to allow that encounter to change their lives. Perhaps the most powerful thing we can say to people is what Philip said to Nathaniel (John 1:46) and what the Samaritan woman said to the villagers (John 4:29): "Come and meet Jesus for yourself."
Dear Jesus, are prayer today I that we would be bold and invite the people around us to meet you. Give us a spirit courage that we won’t back down. In The Name of Jesus, Amen.