Tonight on my way to the grocery store, I was listening to a sermon by David Jeremiah. You know when you have those times when you hear or read something, and you know that God is speaking straight to your heart? THAT was what happened. Out of the blue, it was like God was sitting right there speaking to me as plain as day. I love it when that happens.
I reached my destination much too soon, and I just sat there in the parking lot until it was done, and hoped my hubby wouldn't mind watching our rugrats a few extra minutes. More about the sermon later...
I read a blog post post the other day. It was written by a Christian. A pretty typical Christian, I would assume. The post was about sharing Jesus with people, and different methods of doing that. He mentioned talking to strangers and trying to just bring it up in conversation. He mentioned passing out tracts. He mentioned "living the gospel" but not really saying anything, and he talked about "friendship evangelism," or having a longterm friendship and sharing Christ along the way. And then, he sadly admitted that he hasn't had much success with ANY of these methods. Basically the conclusion was that they don't work very often. It is just plain hard to share our faith with people, and we as Christians are just not very comfortable doing it. Pretty much, that was the end of it.
I thought about and prayed about that post for a long time afterward. I had already been spending a lot of time thinking about this very thing in recent weeks. What exactly is going on in this day in age in our nation, and others, I am sure. What are we doing wrong? Where is God's power? Why do we seem to work and work and not get many results? And here is what I think...
First of all, the problem does not have to do with God. He is the same as always. Always good, always loving, always amazingly powerful. I still hear about and experience answers to prayer, often miraculous occurences, on a pretty regular basis. But I know He has sooooo much more power He would love to display and share with us! As I was reading this guy's post, I was struck by the hopelessness in it. The feeling was, "Tried this--didn't work. Tried that--didn't work. Ho hum. Might as well quit or try yet another method that might work better." He did not mention the Holy Spirit's involvement or prayer. His thinking was mostly in human terms. "What can we do to fix this problem? What would make the most sense?"
The thing is, God does not really need our good ideas. We simply need GOD ideas. And the greatest ones are already written out for us in His Word. I believe if we just used them, He would show us things we couldn't even imagine.
I believe that the problem with Christianity today is that too often we Christians really, truly want to please God... but we also really, truly want to please ourselves. We love God... but also, we love the world--even though we might pretend we don't. We want to serve Him, but... we want to be comfy. We want the Holy Spirit's power in our lives, but we don't really want to pray a whole lot. If something is too hard...well, we just don't want to do it.
I have been reading in Luke lately, and I recently read the passages in chapter 9 where Jesus is telling people what it will take to be His disciples. One man says, "I will follow you," and Jesus says think about this first-- "The Son of Man has no place to lay His head." In other words, "It is not going to be very comfy, friend." Jesus says to another man, "Follow Me," but the man wants to go back and bury his father. Perhaps he meant his father will die soon, and he needs to stay with him for now. Jesus replies, "Let the dead bury their dead, but go and preach the kingdom of God." Too harsh? What He means is, to be Jesus' disciple, you have to be ready and willing to give up EVERYTHING for Him. Jesus knew this man's heart. Another man says, "Lord, I will follow you, but first let me go and say good-bye to my family." Jesus says, "No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Yikes. Jesus means business. When He called His 12 disciples, He said, "Follow me," and they simply dropped what they were doing and went. Such faith! They were ready. Ready to give up everything for Him! How could God use us if we would give Him that kind of commitment?
I have also read biographies of great heroes of the faith. Recently I've read about George Muller, Amy Carmichael, Hudson Taylor, and D.L. Moody. These people did amazing things for God in their lifetimes. They didn't sit with committees and have meetings, thinking and strategizing about what methods would work the best. They just wholeheartedly gave their lives over to God, and lived by faith so amazing I have never seen anyone like them in today's world--and prayed, prayed, prayed. George Muller started orphanages from nothing, and ran them with no government help. He never asked anyone for a dime, but simply prayed and trusted God for every penny, including his own salary. Never once did the children go hungry. Every single need was met, every single time. He was busier than anyone, but he made the time to spend large chunks of time in prayer, alone and with others, every day! Muller had a list of people he was praying for to come to know Jesus. I am sure some of them were hard cases. EVERY single one of them got saved, a couple of them after Muller had alrady passed away. Muller understood Who has the power to make things happen. It's not us, dear friends.
I guess what I am trying to say is that my writer friend up there seemed to be looking at the problem through human eyes, and not God's eyes. We need to stop thinking like mere mortals. We have the Holy Spirit, and He would love to do so much more if we would just surrender our lives to Him, and trust Him for the results!
Oops...I said I would tell you about that sermon. I will have to leave that until next time. Consider it part two, coming soon... : )