by Dave Miller
I have found myself more and more comfortable in situations that take time to understand, with people that don’t fit my categories, around believers who accidentally make mistakes, and with those who called themselves disciples yet walk away, BECAUSE I cling to the promise that the Spirit does the work. I want to give them the space they need to count the cost.
A simple distinction I make at the end of a Bible study:
If they have not yet expressed faith in Jesus, I ask, “What keeps you from following Jesus today?”
If they have expressed faith in Jesus, I take them at their word and transition to, “How will you obey Jesus because of what you learned?”
Then, through prayer and lots of scripture reading on my own, I ask for God’s grace to help me, with the time I have with them, be it long or short, to help move the needle in their growth towards following Jesus and love for the Word. I know ideas I share, tools I use, and illustrations I draw will invariably be misunderstood, misconstrued, and reproduced in a way I might not have intended. The reasons: I am wrong, or I communicated ineffectively, or I didn’t understand a cultural difference, or the language barrier just didn’t translate very well. The only reason I keep trying, knowing that all this chaos and failure will result from my efforts, is precisely because I believe the Holy Spirit draws, brings to remembrance and guides in all truth.
For clarity, I don’t get comfortable with those who intentionally work against the Scripture and the Holy Spirit while calling themselves disciples of Jesus within my circle of influence. That is a different ballgame entirely. The unfortunate truth is, even Jesus didn’t keep everyone who followed him, only those who the Father had given. Thankfully we have the completion of some of those stories to know what to expect.
So here is what I see as the points of agreement and our rally cry…
Share the Word of God, preach Jesus crucified, buried, and risen, call others to repent and believe, expect obedience to Christ’s commands, pray for the disciples and churches to endure, and train for multiplication so we can see #NoPlaceLeft.
We sharpen one another so we can do our best, as much as it depends upon us, to walk in a manner worthy of the calling we have received to know Christ and make him known.
We must do our best to make the distinction between those who are intentionally subverting Christ and need a rebuke vs. those who are walking with the Lord and need correction and encouragement.
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and teaching. - 2 Timothy 4:2