"If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here...Why then are we here?
...The answer is this-- they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know His love. We remain on earth as sowers...as ploughmen...as heralds..."
-Morning and Evening by C. H. Spurgeon: June 10th
If sharing the good news with others is the only real reason I still walk this earth, what am I dawdling for?
If my first calling (the continuous prerequisite being to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength) is to go into the world and preach the good news, why do I shirk away and avoid those conversations? Put it off and do other things?
Another thought of mine has been paralleling our relationship with God with a person you're in love with.
When someone becomes your world, you're always talking about them, are you not? You just want to gush and tell people how great they are and the things they've done for you and what you love about them.
Granted, some personalities aren't inclined to do this without prompting, but anyone who's ever loved someone knows what this is like. You're just so in love with them that is spills over and everyone who knows you knows; and it's probably what you're most known for.
If the active verb of a prerequisite to my first calling is to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, why am I not so in love with Him that the words spill out and I have to share? Why do I get scared and nervous if He comes up in conversation? Am I ashamed of Him?
Anyone who's truly loved someone knows that they are the person you are least ashamed to be associated with and speak about.
After this, a Sunday morning brought about a sermon in which, paraphrasing here, I was reminded that God does not need any of us to accomplish His will. He can lead a person to salvation without you. He can work miracles without you. He can part the sea without you.
He can grow seeds and change hearts without you.
Do you know what this means?
This means that you are to be salt, an accent to a dish, and light, a tool to see. Not the dish or the thing to see.
It means that you can plant a seed or till soil, but you do not make the plant grow.
It means that the salvation of another soul is not your responsibility.
Here, I believe, is the fatal flaw of today's "evangelism." We are so eager to give the truth and prove we are right and get everyone saved this very instant, that we make the mistake of thinking it is our responsibility to make sure the person we are sharing with accepts Christ.
There is an urgency, maybe even a panicked urgency, and lack of love that marks how many share Jesus with others, and it does nothing for the unsaved soul.
Brothers and sisters, the great commission says to go out into the world and preach the good news, not fulfill a monthly quota of people you've gotten to pray the prayer.
It is only Jesus who opens eyes and changes hearts. You are only commanded to love Him and share His love with others. And as St. Francis of Assisi says:
"Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary, use words."
Over the last few weeks I have been in the process of refreshing my relationship with Jesus. I am praying more, reading and studying His word more; putting effort into actively loving Him.
I have been mulling over all these things in my mind and looking for opportunity to share with people. I've been meditating on the commandment to love.
I have been working at an arts camp for the past two weeks, filled with kids from 3 years old to 18.
Lots of people from different backgrounds, lots of different ideas.
I don't even know how it happened, but on Wednesday during lunch I ended up having a conversation with two other college helpers who believe very different and very relative things about various controversial matters. I shared what the Bible says, why God says those matters wrong, why Jesus had to die, why evil exists and what Jesus has done about it.
And you know what? At not one time did I say, "You're wrong. I'm right. You're going to hell."
I shared truth unapologetically and without ever prefacing a statement with "This is just what I think."
But I also listened. I didn't stop being friendly and being kind and gentle with this person. I never once got in her face. I affirmed what was right. I asked questions. I was able to laugh and be pleasant and act like me in a conversation even though the matters were so serious and I was sharing truth in a very clear way. We never once got heated.
Neither was she at any point moved and asking what she should do to be saved.
But she heard truth, and I behaved in love.
I've had another girl at camp on my mind all week. She's a smart, deep thinker for thirteen, has seen her share of life, and is articulate and has common sense. But hearing many conversations as she and her friends hung out around my area, I knew she didn't know the real Jesus. She'd been on my heart and I was contemplating starting a conversation at some point.
Last night I picked up my brother from a high school bible study. As we drove home I asked him and his friend what the teaching was about.
"It was about how we should share God's love and truth with others, and not keep it for ourselves."
I knew what I was going to have to do today.
During lunch while her friends were doing something else I asked if I could tell her something.
I shared about God and the garden of Eden and why Jesus came to die. I explained how salvation works and what hell is like. I explained how Jesus' death and resurrection works and how this life is the only shot we get at accepting His gift.
I also listened to her ideas and when her other friend arrived I listened to her and answered her questions.
And I very, very gently, in a heartbroken tone, looked a fourteen year old girl in the eye and affirmed that I was implying that she would go to hell when she died if she didn't accept Jesus' gift.
What I didn't do was comment on her shirt that I thought was way too short. What I didn't do was comment on how certain books or tv shows she likes are probably not good. What I didn't do was tell her that her ideas were stupid.
What I didn't do was try to change her.
What I did do was have a normal conversation, the kind where you listen and then you talk and then you listen again...about extraordinary things.
We parted with a hug and as friends. I know she heard me and she knows I heard her.
After that, I shared more with another young girl who thought that she was too old to start believing in God and Christianity. We talked for awhile. It was a normal conversation about extraordinary things. But we were human; we paused to laugh and we were real and we were genuine. It was no debate, it was no heated argument. I shared, she shared. I listened and she listened. I was able to give a fully comprehensive and articulate, uncompromising gospel message without someone feeling hurt and trampled on.
I learned a lot of things.
You must be filled up to pour out.
You must be in love to speak truth in love.
You are not responsible for anyone's salvation.
And may we all grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. May we abound in love for Him, for each other, and for the lost strangers and friends around us.