Having been preaching for the last couple of months about God’s plan for the healthy, active body of Christ (that is, through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians), I am keen on pointing out those important moments when we are clearly on the right track. This past month has seen several such moments that I can’t help but share, at least in part (as I have not been given permission to brag on anyone by name).
First, I had a conversation with someone who had been helping a friend through some tough times, both with their health and some personal issues. There was some work that had to be done that was physically and emotionally taxing, and it was easy to be taken for granted. However, the work was done without complaining and with no personal gain. Unfortunately, the health problems turned worse more quickly than was expected, and the friend needed assurance that God was there and that God cared. I was told, “Sometimes all I could do was pray,” and I agreed that it is, many times, all we can do but that it is hardly nothing, especially when it comes to our faithful God. I affirmed that this is who we are and what we do.
Later, I talked with someone who confided that they felt inadequate in their ability to share their faith with anyone. They had high expectations for their ability to take their many years of faith – having heard hundreds of sermons, Sunday school lessons, and Bible studies; having spent decades in corporate worship services and personal devotional times; and having prayed thousands of prayers for friends, family members, and even complete strangers – and reap spiritual harvests of “thirty, sixty or even a hundred times what was sown.” Again, I was told, “Sometimes it seems that all I am doing is planting seeds,” and again, I agreed that, many times, all we do is plant seeds or tend plants. That is who we are and what we do; it’s God who makes seeds grow.
Then I was privileged to witness a baptism among some long-time friends. I had no knowledge of the depth of the relationships that were involved, not how they began nor how they grew, and yet it was obvious that this was a relationship founded and fed on the love of Christ. Throughout this relationship, those who are involved not only shared a common faith but they shared their lives together, from the good through the bad, even through the death of a spouse. While I was thrilled to participate as a witness, it was important for me to call attention to the fact that I had nothing to do with the process, other than to make sure the baptistery was warm and the lights were on. Again, I shared the simple fact that this is who we are and what we do.
I love that I have the privilege to prepare sermons and lessons to share from God’s Word. I take my responsibility to preach and teach the Gospel very seriously. However, I finally understand the apostle John’s excitement when I read from his letter:
It gave me great joy to have some brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. (3 John 1:3, 4, NIV (1984))
While all of you should expect your preacher to be sharing the Gospel and making disciples, please know that this is who we are and what we do. As disciples of Jesus, we must all be sharing our faith, sharing the Gospel, and making disciples, and it gives me great joy to see it happening.
That doesn’t mean that we all have to preach and teach like Billy Graham or Bob Russell or <insert name of your favorite preacher here>, because I’m pretty sure you all know that I don’t! What it does mean is we all must know and love our Lord and Savior in such a way that we can’t help but tell the people we know and love about him. If you feel inadequate, join the club! But don’t give up; trust God to bring the growth and just plant some seeds. It’s who we are and what we do.