Have we lost the ability to wait on what matters most?
We live in an increasingly fast-paced, technology driven, "I want it now" kind of world. We've gotten so accustomed to convenience and speed, drive-thrus, take out, text messaging, facebook statuses to check up on friends. Now don't get me wrong... there is nothing wrong with convenience, speed and efficiency. I myself am a huge fan of most of the short-cuts today's world offers. However, there is one area I am noticing that our addiction to fast results is having a really detrimental effect.
Evangelism, the spreading of the Christian gospel by personal witness
Friends, I'm bothered by this. Several times over the last few weeks I have heard comments that really speak volumes about the state of the heart of today's church. I'm concerned we are afraid of getting out of our comfort zones with who we call friends. I'm afraid we are losing the ability to be patient while we wait on God to call someone into a relationship with Him. Are we really so used to this world of instant gratification that we're passing on relationships that may take a little work and skipping over to the "easy target?"
Somehow, we have managed to confine this verse, The Great Commission, to only mission trips, one time events and limited personal invitations to friends. Too many times lately I have heard friends tell me stories of neighbors and friends who offered them only two or three invitations to come to church with them before they stopped talking to them, stopped hanging out with them. In each case, the unchurched friend was interested but wasn't ready to dive head in to what comes so natural to those of us who are already immersed in it. They needed time, patience, and friendship first. Friends, no where in the Great Commission do I see Jesus saying "okay, guys, go out and get them but if they say no more than twice then move on to an easier target." Not only are we not engaging with non-believers and loving on them the way Jesus would have, but we're running them further away from church and therefore from God. We have to be patient! We have to wait on God to tug on their hearts and on them to search for Him. The salvation of friends cannot be just picked up in a drive-thru lane at our convenience. It takes work and time, sometimes a lot of time. I would hope that our love for our friends and neighbors and concern for their eternal salvation is worth making that investment!
In this convenient world we live in, it is so easy to dismiss the things that take a little work. Several friends and I have been questioning if we are falling into that same trap too. It's easy to do and takes conscious effort and accountability to keep ourselves in check! I'll tell you one quick way to know if you are. And hear me here... I am absolutely preaching to myself too! Let's look at the make-up of our friends. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the friends you have. But is our social circle complete? When you look at those you hang out with on a regular basis, do most of them look just like you, act like you? Do most of them have the same beliefs? If so, then we have work to do. We have friends to go make. Real relationships, not targets.
Jesus hung out with a huge variety of people. He invited company in to dine with and follow Him AND His disciples. What I'm afraid we are beginning to do, is just hang out with the disciple types only. Let's not just go after the new neighbor that you already know is a Christian and just looking for a new church to call home. Let's do that, but then let's invite the other neighbor - the one who has never set foot in a church and who has turned you down for years - in to eat with us. Let's love on them just the way Jesus loved on the riffraff. That is how we go make disciples of Christ... we show them the same love that He showed us. We are as patient with them as Jesus is with us. We wait while God is doing His work.
Sometimes, God's work is showing them that we love them even if today's convenient religion would tell us they aren't worth investing in.