This is not a rhetorical question. It is a very simple question with a one word answer. It needs no qualifications or explanations. If a simple "yes" is not your answer, it's possible you need to re-think the meaning of the question. In fact, if your immediate answer is much longer than that, the person asking will already know more about you than you could take the time to explain in the awkwardness of the moment.
If you have never met the man in the picture above, then maybe you have never been asked this particular question. But if you met him for the first time as a stranger, there’s a good chance you had to come up with an "on the spot" answer.
Bob Behn just went to heaven a few days ago. He will be greatly missed by his wonderful wife, Bonnie, and family and friends. His devoted life is a great loss. But the greatest loss is a dying world that is without a clear confrontation of the bold truth he was willing to give.
Bob was actually a man of quiet personality. He was not the first to speak up in a group setting. He did not control the atmosphere with his presence. At first, you might not even know he was there. But busy in that heart of his was the keen sensitivity of the people around him, knowing there was a divine appointment in the making. Then, without hesitation, without fear, and without argument, the question would come...
"Are you a Christian?"
If you did not know what made the question an easy one, you might have fumbled a little with the answer. Maybe you would have said, "I think so," or "I hope so." Maybe you would begin to explain how long you've gone to church or that your family belongs to a certain Christian denomination. Maybe you would have said, "Well, I believe I am. I would like to think that I am a good person."
Bob heard it all. And then, with a prayer behind his response, he would say whatever came to his heart. He might move in a little closer and ask more specifically, "If you were to die today, do you know without a doubt that you would go to heaven?" Then, if the immediate answer was not a confident "yes," Bob would explain exactly how you could have that peace in your heart. He might even give you the opportunity, right then and there, to pray and receive.
Or, he might feel that his job was done, and leave you with those four unforgettable words. He knew that sometimes the Holy Spirit could take it from there. As important as the question was, even more important was his sensitivity to the leading of the Lord.
In honor of Bob this week, I'm sensing from that same Spirit to be clear and direct.
Are you a Christian?
Have you said yes to the love of God, who gave His son to die on a cross for your sins and mine? Jesus said, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever (that's you) believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
Do you believe... in your heart? Have you said "yes" to the call of Jesus to follow Him? Can you call Him "Lord?"
If you do, and have, and can... then Jesus says you’ve been converted. You are no longer a person walking in the foggy darkness of this world. You have been re-made into a child of the Father, who is God. You are a son or daughter of the one who made you and has redeemed you. You now belong to Him!
This did not happen because you went to church, or are a "good enough" person. This happened because God initiated His love toward you; and you have responded with worship. The Bible calls that grace. You didn't deserve it. You can't achieve it. You will never be good enough. Really... that should be obvious!
No, you have simply received it. It is a gift, given by God to you. I know this is hard to imagine. But God never expected you to be able to live up to His standards... not without His love and grace. Truth is, He makes you able to live a full, meaningful, and even righteous life by His power that dwells in your spirit... His presence in you. It is your response to that love that makes it possible to live it.
You don't have to understand or even convince anyone else it’s true. You simply have to receive. And when you do... well, that is when you will begin to understand. Don't make this complicated. Just believe. The pieces of the puzzle will come together as you learn more of His love and goodness.
Then answer Bob's question with a confident, one word response. "Yes," followed with a smile. And I would add (because I can never keep my answers short), "I am. And you must be also, or you would probably not be asking me that question."
Bob Behn has been the real deal. He has lived it. He has shared it. He has boldly confronted the world around him, whenever and whoever.
If you would have said "yes" to Bob's question, I have a second question for you (and me). Are we willing to ask the same question to whoever stands in our path? It might come out a little differently. We don't have to copycat Bob. But are we looking for every opportunity to share the love of God with a hopeless world?
Bob, I know you are dancing in the presence of your Heavenly Father. But we want to say, "Thank you!" Thanks for living such a bold life. You have challenged the rest of us. It will be hard to match what you have left behind. I just hope we can keep it that clear, that simple, and that confrontational.
Are you a Christian?
If your answer is "yes," pass it on.
Let's change the world together!