His Wife Is Dying, His Heart Is Breaking
Some may ask, why did He not manifest Himself by means of other and nobler parts of creation, and use some nobler instrument, such as sun or moon or stars or fire or air, instead of mere man? The answer is this. The Lord did not come to make a display. He came to heal and to teach suffering men. For one who wanted to make a display the thing would have been just to appear and dazzle the beholders. But for Him Who came to heal and to teach the way was not merely to dwell here, but to put Himself at the disposal of those who needed Him, and to be manifested according as they could bear it, not vitiating the value of the Divine appearing by exceeding their capacity to receive it (Athanasius, On the Incarnation, §43).
Air-conditioned houses can cause us to not be as acquiescent to the will of God – to some degree. We, as sinners, have a tendency to buck up against weather and comfort moves us away from being molded by “normal” events. That is to say, rather than learn perseverance and patience from the heat of summer or the cold of winter we can run from our cool car to our cool house and curse the sun, the humidity, and the “unbearable” heat.
Maybe if we got rid of such comforts, we would learn how to be content in all circumstances and not be so quick to rest on the laurels of ease.
A wordplay if you will. When I proposed to my wife, I told her for the first time that I loved her and then got down on one knee and asked her to be my wife. Of the definitions on Webster.com I liked the fourth one which says: to come together and interlock (as of machinery parts) : be or become in gear.
Although it is the definition as applied to machinery, i think it works well with how we should view engaging in marriage and engaging our culture. So we move from the warm and fuzzies to the cold hard machine. But in life you need to have both. You need to have cold, hard objectivity and soft, pliant subjectivity.
Enough of trying to string out the analogy. I am reading F. Schaeffer’s book, The God Who is There, and I am loving it – especially the fourth part of speaking into the culture.
The first piece that must be present in engaging the culture is love for fellowmen. Without it, evangelism becomes legalistic strivings to win souls and convert the reprobate. We must come into a deep reality that the man and woman we are talking with is one with us insofar that we have the same father, Adam, and are in need of the Savior.
I fear that pragmatism has bled into our church and been the defining factor of a successful congregation or pastor. That is, on the list of the 50 most influential pastors, each had a huge number of attendees. Don’t get me wrong, there are about five on the list that I admire and pray that I can make an impact on the church as they have.
However, I cannot lose sight of the fact that I may never be known to anyone except the few hundred people I love on by sharing the Gospel and few others that I spend pouring my life into so that they might also do the same. The most influential man was Jesus. He spent his three-year ministry influencing twelve men – twelve! Granted, he is God and the Holy Spirit moved in unprecedented ways to initiate the spreading of the Good News. However, we are also endued with the Holy Spirit and should seek to model the life of Christ. Pouring our life into men’s lives so as to deeply affect them.
Has our church been too focused on sharing the Gospel in droves rather than driving the truth home to the heart and hope of humans’ lives. Yes, I can go to a coffee shop right now and begin talking to five folks about Jesus and how they need to give their lives to Christ. All of which accept Christ as their Lord. But I had better get their telephone numbers and call them up the next day to begin reading through the Scriptures. I better not merely chalk up one on the belt and pat myself on the back.
This is the force of pragmatism. It seems like we are making an impact, yet we are simply getting verbal ascent. I can’t tell you how many men I have heard give their lives to Jesus only to call them and they don’t want to talk or meet or anything. I wish I had loved them before sharing the Gospel with them. Too many times I have only looked at my evangelism as a challenge and good thing to do as a Christian.
May we as a people begin loving people, first. And then talking to them about their need. May we not volley the mortars of truth against their walls of contempt and deluge in order to say we have fought the battle and won the debate and lose a soul.