Habitude 1: Believe Jesus is Worthwhile Based on His Own Merit

by | Jan 26, 2017 | DAY 1 affects DAY 100 Habitudes | 4 comments

By Jean Johnson

It seems like on some subconscious level . . .

We doubt Jesus is enough based on His own merit . . . It’s like we need to win people to something else to win them to Jesus.

When we go this route in mission work, we often find that people have not chosen to become a Christian based on their understanding of Jesus Christ, but on a secondary reason—whatever we did or used to win them over, such as free English classes, a better education, economic improvement, and so forth.

Larry Crabb wrote: “Our passion for Jesus is the only passion that will not destroy us.”

Therefore, we need to offer Jesus, front and center, so people are choosing Jesus for Jesus’ sake and not all the personal benefits that come with our mission methods. If a woman chooses her husband based on the benefits that come with the marriage, the union will run dry rather quickly. If she chooses her husband because of the man himself, the union will stay strong.

I wish someone had given me this challenge before I departed for the mission field:

Lead Cambodians to Jesus in such a manner that they choose all of Him because of Him. In other words, ensure you don’t operate in a way that they are actually choosing some other secondary aspect of Christianity such as social betterment.

If I went to Cambodia with the challenge of inviting people to believe and follow Christ based on His merit alone, I would have worked much harder to know everything about Him and then share everything about Him in a way a Folk Buddhist would say, I choose Jesus Christ because He is worthy!!

If people choose Jesus for Jesus’ sake—because they are drawn to His manner, His attitude, His teachings, His paradigm, His means of salvation—their relationship with God will be tight for a lifetime, for eternal life.

I saw way too many Cambodians choose Christianity to put themselves close to all things American, rather than choose Christ to put themselves closer to the Son of God.

I think every mission’s training effort should spend the majority of their time on getting to know Jesus inside and out and then learn to share Him with a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a woman at a well, men in their fishing boat, people at the temple, and so forth.

I can already hear my friend . . . “Yes, but don’t we need to talk about Jesus and show Jesus through deed, as well?” My reply, “Yes, indeed! . . . But loving relationally and loving through service projects are two different creatures.”

So the idea is to talk about Jesus constantly, while eating food you don’t like, crying with someone about a painful story, praying together through the night and so much more until they say, I choose Jesus as the Way, Truth, and Life!

You should try it! See if you can lead people to choose Jesus based on Jesus before you venture into offering social services to win them over. Paul tried that when He was with the Corinthians and the Romans:

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified (I Corinthians 2:1-2, NIV).
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16, NIV).

If you want to make disciples of other nations, develop the habitude of believing that Jesus is worthwhile based on His own merits.

First, this will force you to get to know Him well enough to inspire others to want to know Him.

Second, once you believe Jesus is worthwhile based on His own merits, you will share incredible, heartfelt, animated, desperate, believable testimonies about Jesus—and thus make disciples of Jesus who can in turn make more disciples.

To Sharpen this Habitude:

  • Keep in mind this thought by Thomas A Kempis from his book Imitation of Christ: “If we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart, let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.”
  • Read story by story in the gospels until you know Jesus like a best friend, a spouse, a favorite teacher, and as God with Us.
  • Practice retelling the story in a way that future listeners will grow to know Jesus—who He is, what He feels, what He expects, what He gave, what He valued, and so forth.
  • Practice situational Bible storying. For example, a Cambodian tells me they are afraid of ghosts at night. I respond, “May I tell you of a story when Jesus encountered a ghost who possessed a man in a graveyard?”

* DAY 1 affects DAY 100 is part of Five Stones Global’ branding and a quote from the book We Are Not The Hero: A Missionary’s Guide For Sharing Christ, Not a Culture of Dependency


  1. Stan Nussbaum

    It sounds like gospel communication is like making a snowman. Whatever we use to get into conversation is like the core of snow we pack to start rolling a huge snowball. If that core is not tight, the ball always falls apart. That analogy will work better in Minnesota than Cambodia, of course! But I think it makes your point.

    • wmaadmin

      Hi Stan,

      As a Minnesotan and someone who has made many snowballs in my life–yes your analogy drives home the point.:)

  2. Penn Janzen

    This is sooo important! Thank you for writing this.

    I once met a Muslim guy who was deeply offended by missionaries he met who were always trying to pull him into cool events and parties, or to help him out by buying new shoes etc. “I know I’m poor and you guys are rich!” He thought, “You don’t have to rub it in my face!” These people were trying to win him over their own assets, and it ended up shaming him and pushing him away. He even asked them to tell him about what they believed, but they wouldn’t answer him and kept on trying to get him to come to events.

    I got to talk with him about Jesus in his house where I was a guest, and he was super interested. When a bunch of his friends came home he said, “Guys, guess what this guy is saying!!” And he proceeded to tell the gospel beautifully to his housemates.

    Oh, if we as missionaries would understand that our job is simply to proclaim and point people to Christ!

    • wmaadmin

      Hi Penn Janzen,

      Thank you for this real-life example of how our coaxing can truly backfire . . . lacks reproducibility as well.


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