So, last night during Community Groups I had a few different little epiphanies, and I'd like to share one of them with you today.
We were talking about being mission-minded and witnessing, when our leader pointed out that when we give up on someone we are trying to witness to and "shake the dust from our sandals" we are basically saying we no longer care and that they can literally go to hell. Powerful stuff, really convicting stuff, and I realize that I am very guilty of this. I have had several friends over the years who I have witnessed to for varying lengths of time, some for several years. Several I have finally given up on, though, having beaten my head against the proverbial wall for too long. Now, I realize just how wrong this is.
The last few sermons at our church have been discussing Mark's gospel, specifically the parables early in Jesus' ministry. The main one has been the parable of the sower, where one important fact really hit me: the sower sows his seed on all four soil types, whether hard, thin, thorny, or fertile. In the same way, we should be indiscriminate in sharing the gospel. It is not for us to decide that this person is too hardened to our words, or that that person's faith will soon be drowned out by the world. It is our job to sow, not to do personality analysis.
During our community group meeting, I was struck with the analogy of a fire. The Gospel is a fire. Early church Christians (as in directly after Penecost) experienced its explosion, its burning power as hundreds and thousands were converted in single days. Currently, we are to be the coals of that continuing fire, "lighting" those we come into contact with.
One of my regular household duties is to build and start the fire in our wood furnace so we can have heat and hot water. Without the fire, we will not have those two commodities; so, I really have to get a fire going. It's not for me to decide the firewood is too wet or frozen. I just have to go out and get the fire going. Sometimes, it's easy. The wood is dry and catches quickly. Other times, it seems to take forever if the wood is wet or there isn't enough tinder lying around to start it with. But, there isn't really the option of just walking away without the job being done.
In the same way, we cannot simply walk away from unbelievers, having decided that they are hopeless. We should continue to try. Some will take a long time, others will be quickly receptive, and still others may already have a smoldering coal somewhere to be found and stoked. Our job is simply to pursue them.
Keep trying, brothers and sisters. You never know when someone might surprise you.