I was frustrated!  It was mid-year 2007.  I had turned my life over to Jesus almost 10 years earlier and burning deep inside me was a great passion for seeing people find the same peace and forgiveness that I had found in a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. I would look at people and just want to run up to them and tell them all about Jesus. Over time, however, I found myself getting discouraged because people weren’t as “receptive” as I thought they should be. I would pray, “Lord, isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing? After all, I don’t want anyone to go to hell, right?”  It wasn’t long before the Lord taught me something that totally transformed my way of thinking. The Engle Scale is a number line from -9 to +9 (-9, -8, -7, -6…0…1, 2, 3, 4…9).  Each number represents a spiritual condition ie. -9 being someone who doesn’t believe in any form of a spiritual realm.  A -7 is someone who believes that a “higher power” exists.  A -5 is someone who believes in “God”.  A -3 is someone who believes that Jesus was a real person, but not too sure about the Son of God/Savior of the world thing.  Then a -1 person is someone who is ready to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  “0” is at the point of salvation.  The number line in the positive direction is the growth of their relationship with Jesus and the discipleship process.  Everyone on the face of the planet is on that number line somewhere.  If I am talking with someone who right now on their spiritual journey is at a “-7”, I cannot expect them to be ready right then to accept Christ… no matter how hard I try.  They are just not ready.  However, they are on a journey that will hopefully lead them to “0”.  I just get the privilege of connecting with them wherever they are on the “Engle Scale”.  Maybe it will be my testimony, or my friendship or my compassion in their time of need that will bring them one step closer to salvation.  There have been times when I’ve been blessed to talk to a person at the “-1” position and lead them to Christ, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of all the people who loved them and spoke into their lives; helping them advance one step at a time.   Understanding the Engle Scale was like a light bulb going on in my head; taking an incredible about of pressure off me.  I had found myself falling into the mindset that if I talked with someone and they didn’t receive Christ right then, I had somehow failed.  Salvation is God’s doing – not mine. I can’t “save” anyone.   God can and wants to use me to be His voice, His hands, etc. but it is the Holy Spirit who does the wooing, the convicting and the saving.  I learned that so much more can be accomplished if I focus on just loving people the best that I can and listening to the Holy Spirit’s direction.  After all, Jesus did say that the greatest commandment was to love. He’s knows the hearts of all men and regardless of all my own motivations and efforts, love is the single most powerful tool that brings change.

“No one comes to me (Jesus) unless my Father draws him.”

Matt. 6:44

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Comments
  1. Paul W. Rider says:

    I haven’t heard it quite like that Brian, but I, too, had to learn about people being a different steps in the process…like in preparing a field, plowing, planting seed, watering, preparing the vine, pruning, and picking the fruit. I hear you loud and clear. The Lord knows what He is doing…we just need to get out of the drivers seat.

    • Brian says:

      Hey Paul – yes, I think we are all “apples” that don’t fall that far from the same “tree”. The Lord teaches us all similar lessons, but in different ways that each of us will understand. Love you bro!

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