“I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6)
One of my friends has begun attending church again and moving closer to God. He’s found a congregation he enjoys and has even gotten his girlfriend and kids attending regularly. The pastor has drawn close to him and often expressed an interest in his involvement there; however, this started becoming a problem.
Participation was always the topic. There was a place for him ‘here’, an opening ‘there’. “I’m just waiting on you” is how it would be put to him; and that was the problem. My friend isn’t even a church member yet, a step really important to him. Further, whereas he was usually excited when Sundays came around, now he started begrudging the fact.
So he called me. Listening to him I knew the only option he had at that moment was to speak to the pastor and express his truest feelings. I could understand the minister’s excitement about this young man’s budding faith and his eagerness about his further involvement—not desiring to see him leave—yet it was overbearing.
If I know anything, I know that 1) men who don’t care about church aren’t there and 2) they certainly aren’t candid about their lives with the pastor. In fact, many men distrust pastors.
This minister needed not fear losing my friend because he was being edified and wouldn’t be returning each Sunday if he wasn’t. He just needed to be allowed to be his own man and make his own decisions at his own pace.
Get Thee Out of the Way!
I’m thrilled to see the Holy Spirit moving in my buddy’s life. It’s something I’ve cried out to God about for a long time, for both him and his girlfriend; now I’m watching God move in their lives.
As I expressed, I know the pastor’s intentions were good, yet they characterize something I’ve too often observed: well-meaning Christians who won’t let the Holy Spirit do his job.
We’re all familiar with this usually in the form of browbeating preaching or dogma. Folk can hardly get a foot in the church door before being barked at with a litany of orders about how they should and should not look, think, act, and any other unnecessary or premature modification. We only prove how well we’ve missed the point about grace.
I recall a sermon once that really provoked me. The preacher expressed amazement that he can preach one sermon and with it the Holy Spirit is able to preach hundreds of sermons to the people present. Thus, it was his task to be the best preacher and communicator of the Word he could possibly be; but the hard work of changing the heart fell to the Holy Spirit to accomplish.
We’ve got to know our place, which is not supplying God a Hagar thinking we’re rushing the process along. Instead, that place is making ourselves available to folk, plainly discussing faith issues, genuinely befriending people, and storming heaven with our prayers for them. But after that we’ve got to step aside and let the Lord be God in their lives. Results are his job.