Saturday, May 16, 2015

For anyone, anywhere

When I look at the non-stop stream of testimonies that play on the radio and internet here in Sāo Paulo, in church services and on church blog posts, it never ceases to amaze me how God can really rescue anyone from anywhere who has done anything in their past. The pastors who were once drug addicts are so far removed from the old person that they once were. I’m often surprised at the horror stories that they have to tell, which makes the story of their salvation and transformation that much more powerful. The church assistants who joyfully serve in the daily meetings are giving back to the God who rescued them from suicide, depression, witchcraft, prostitution – you name it. These are the people that we probably would have avoided like the plague had we known them in their former state. They were so far from God, but thankfully someone reached out to them and helped them find the path to deliverance and salvation to be where they are today.

We can’t write off anyone as a hopeless case. God can reach anyone, and no one is worthless to Him. The only thing is that not everyone wants to be reached. Something has to be awakened in them by God’s Spirit to make them hunger for a change. When we reach out to the lost and they reject us or treat us with contempt, we can’t take it personally, feeling hurt and afraid to ever reach out to anyone again. Obviously there’s a spirit in or around them resisting the light of God, and sometimes just showing our sincerity and care chips away at their defenses and reveals a power that they want for themselves. Seeds of faith we plant may take even years to actually sprout and take root when their hearts are right.

But by the same token, we can’t force a person to find God by imposing our will on them. Constantly preaching at them against their will is not an act of faith, but an act of our flesh. There are a lot of people who refuse to go to church just because of frustrating experiences with pushy Christians. Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will draw people to Himself. Our job is to be ready to speak to them and show who He is through our lives, but the hunger for Him is something God will instill in them whenever they are ready.  

It’s natural when we have a big love for God to get excited about the new life He has, and we would want to tell the whole world and bring as many into His Kingdom as possible. If a Christian has never had that burning desire to rescue others, maybe he should ask himself if he really knows God. If you’ve been drowning and then are pulled onto a lifeboat, would you ignore the rest of the people who were still drowning in the sea around you? Those who are truly saved, want to save! God is calling the most unexpected people into His Kingdom and He wants to use each of us to throw out the lifeline to others. We don’t know who will take hold of it and who won’t, but we can know that He is doing the calling, and those who have ears to hear Him will come. This is a promise to us, to our children and even to those who are far off.

“Repent,” Peter said to them, “and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  For the promise is for you and for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”  (Acts 2:38-39 HCSB)

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