"... I preached that they should repent and ... prove their repentance by their deeds." (v. 20)
Some evangelists asked me: "Why don't we see more of the kind of converts coming into today's church that we used to get a few decades ago -- those who from the very start seem 'out and out' for Jesus?" I replied that I thought it had something to do with the way we present the truths of Christianity to potential converts, and I told them the story I heard John White, a Christian psychiatrist, tell.
A butterfly, struggling to get out of its chrysalis, was given a helping hand by a well-meaning observer. As a result, however, the butterfly was unable to fly because it is in the struggle to emerge that it develops the strength to soar. The observer, intent on making it easy for the butterfly to leave the chrysalis, inadvertently contributed to its early demise. We do something similar when we help people avoid the struggle that radical repentance invariably brings. The modern-day church (with some exceptions) is like an inexpert midwife bringing damaged children into the world -- damaged by lack of attention to basic principles. To return to the metaphor of the butterfly, in the church today there are many butterflies unable to fly because when they emerged from their spiritual chrysalis someone made it easier for them than they should have. We can do that by wrong statements or incomplete statements or even by a misplaced emphasis. Evangelism is making it easy for men and women to be saved, but we must be careful that we do not make it easier than it should be.
O Father, stir us as Your church to put the emphasis where You put it -- on the lordship of Christ and the need for complete and utter surrender to Him in the very first moments of conversion. In Christ's Name we pray. Amen.
For Further Study
1. What was Jesus' message to the crowd who followed Him?
2. What was Peter able to say?