Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Are You Taking Credit?

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

The principal at a private Christian school once asked a classroom of students, “How many people have you led to Christ?” This question came on the heels of a class debate.  The principal’s son had instigated this debate and was the lone soldier in his case against the rest of the class. The principal had observed the end of the debate and asked this question in an effort to exalt her son.

She pressed them with, “How many of you have led someone to Christ?” The fifth grade students became very quiet. Most of them looked away from the principal and visibly shrunk down in their seats. One of the girls started to cry. The principal then highlighted the fact that while none of them had led others to Christ, her son had - and wasn't he great. The rest of the students felt shamed.

In Christian circles, there is a tendency to make a big, big deal about leading people to Christ. I recently had a conversation with a woman who told me that her former church had fired and slandered their pastor because he didn’t have enough salvations “on the books”. Individually, Christians sometimes keep track of the number of people they have personally led to Christ. Each "saved soul" becomes a badge of honor to that person.

We know that people are rescued from separation from God only through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus himself instructed us to communicate his message to the world in the hope that people will place their trust in him as the means of their forgiveness.

But is it right for us to take credit for anyone’s salvation? Are we able to actually provide that salvation for them? Should we be keeping count?

In John 6:44 we read:

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him . . .”

According to this verse, who actually draws people to Christ?

1 Cor. 3:5-7 states "What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe - as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow."

In this passage, who is it that makes the seed of faith grow?

And in Matthew 9:37-38, "Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'"

God is the Lord of the what?

In John 4:35-38, the sower and the reaper work together toward the same end. Neither one’s work is more important than the other’s. Yet in church life it often seems that the aim for many people is to "harvest." It appears to be the entire focus for some.

But there is no harvest without seed planting and sowing. Those little seeds not only need to be planted; they also need to be nurtured, tended, protected, and loved. In my life, I have watched God use me more often as a seed planter and a sower as I pour into the lives of other people.  For that, I am not ashamed.

My prayer is that the children in that 5th grade class will someday understand the high calling of being a seed planter and a sower, and that they will be willing to commit themselves to labor selflessly in the fields in order to make the fields ready for those who have the good fortune of reaping – whoever the reaper may be.

Warming the World Together . . .

Lisa ~