Sowing and discipling can be surprisingly lonely labors. I admit, it gets discouraging trying to point people to the truth you found and they don’t want it. You expect it from unbelievers. What’s more discouraging is when they are professing Christians and they don’t want to hear it. I’ve had so many conversations like that over the years. Anymore I almost just assume it, which isn’t right either as I was recently and happily reminded.
When Professing Christians Hate the Truth
You would think the conversation would go something like this:
- X is a professing Christian. I’m a professing Christian.
- X reads the Bible and goes to church. I read the Bible and go to church.
- X is in obvious sin or bad teaching or nominally Christian. I lived that way for 20 years.
- I tell X that’s not the way to go, we need cast off that stuff and follow the Lord.
- X thanks me for caring enough to tell them and repents of their sin or forsakes the false teaching they are into
- We all live happily ever after
I can probably count on one hand the number of times that’s happened. Almost always the person just gets offended and gives a “So?” attitude.
Where it gets even more bizarre is when it’s a mature Christian, or the mature Christian clearly disregards the plain commands of Scripture about a matter. I know the world hates the truth, but I don’t think I’ll ever get past the shock when professing Christians do, too. I’ve had it happen during street evangelism, in private conversations, on Facebook…
Where is the Zeal for God’s Glory?
Believe me, I don’t go around pointing out specks in others’ eyes. I have my own logs to deal with most of the time. But sin is sin and we should love others who profess to be Christians–and be zealous for God’s honor and glory–enough to tell them when we see something, or we see them guzzling down poisonous false teaching. Besides, that’s what the Great Commission the Lord Jesus gave us is all about.
Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.Matthew 28:19-20 NIV, emphasis added
Part of our job as believers is to “spur one another on” to holiness and greater devotion and obedience to our Lord (Hebrews 10:24).
A Story of a Ray of Hope Shining Through
Well, here’s a happy little story I can now count on that one hand…
Not long ago I was in a thrift store checking out the used books (yes, again). Nearby a lady was also browsing the rows. In her cart I noticed she had a Max Lucado book and the wildly-popular-but-actually-heretical book, The Shack.
Oh no, I thought. Do I say something, or just let it go? Probably not going to want to hear it anyway… I decided I had to say something.
What I wanted to do was reach into her cart, grab The Shack, and throw it in The Trash. What I decided to do instead was show some restraint and strike up a conversation with her. “I noticed you have a Max Lucado book there. Are you looking for Christian books?” She said she was.
I don’t really read Max Lucado. I don’t have anything against him, I’m just not a big fan of Christian writers who have broad appeal and seem not to offend anyone along the way. If you’re sharing the gospel, you’re going to offend at some point. But he gave me a way in, so I owe him for that.
I steered the conversation to the copy of The Shack in her cart. She said she’d heard about it, and remembered they made a movie about it, so she was curious. I politely suggested that, if she loves the truth, she might want to do some research about The Shack. I said something like, “Yeah, it was very popular, but it isn’t very biblical.” God the Father, for example, is portrayed as an African-American woman.
In the moment I could only remember that the Holy Spirit is portrayed as an Asian woman, so I mentioned that to her. She said that alone sounded too strange for her and she put the book back. A few pleasantries later and we went our separate ways.
YES! Thank you, Lord! I thought.
I raced through the books to try to find something good to pass along. A few minutes later I found The Holiness of God by RC Sproul.
Perfect! Thank you, Lord!
I went over and handed it to her, suggesting she’d instead enjoy it much more. She took it and thanked me.
I went away praising and thanking God for the opportunity to be used to point someone to the truth and they actually listened!
The experience taught me a lesson: Don’t be discouraged! In the Parable of the Sower, not every seed bore fruit, but for the ones that did, the sowing was worth the effort.
Those who go out weeping,Psalm 126:6 NIV 1984
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
it gets discouraging trying to point people to the truth and they don’t want it but God doesn’t want us to stop trying. Keep sowing!