You aren’t ready to read another word of this blog unless you get the first 4 parts of Spiritual Growth.
Our spiritual growth can’t just be all about us. There is the hope of bringing more people into the family/kingdom of God.
I don’t know about you but the command to go and spread the gospel via the great commission in Matthew 28:18-20 has always frustrated me. How on earth am I supposed to do that? I don’t have a degree in theology. I don’t have time to go on mission trips or the persona to be a street preacher. Who am I to do anything in the name of the Lord?
2 Corinthians 2:14
But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us [HE] spreads the fragrance [idea, concept] of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved…
Hallelujah, Christ does it!
I just have to be about the business of growing spiritually and this will be the ‘aroma’ to those whom Christ is already saving. He does the ‘saving’ and the ‘spreading’ of the Gospel for us, through us as we grow.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.
So it is for certain! You and I will witness for Christ because the Holy Spirit will make that happen in us, through us, in His timing and for His purposes. So my type-A-gotta-be-perfection-self can chill out. Witnessing for the gospel is a natural progression of our spiritual growth. It’s going to look different for everyone and everywhere. God naturally has to be the one in charge of all of that witnessing because transforming a soul is a huge multidimensional undertaking. There is no one-size-fits-all program to witness/minister/disciple. I find it so arrogant that we think we can manipulate people into finding God. We will know when God presents us with those opportunities.
I’m just going to boast in the Lord for a minute…
I have been fortunate to have experienced these opportunities time and time again in the last seven years, but until my pastor taught this lesson I’m writing about (“Multiplication” from the study Spiritual Growth) I did not truly know that I was experiencing the fruit of spiritual growth. It’s like hearing the pilot say, “We are making our descent now and should be arriving in approximately………”. Incredible excitement builds just knowing you will soon arrive at whatever awesome place you’re headed to. Okay, life can be a really long plane ride but you get the picture.
One such witnessing opportunity presented itself to me when I was invited to an Episcopal book club at a large university. They boasted of their inclusivity of all people and all ideas; so surely this Christian (me) was more than welcome to do a little nerdy-book discussion. They were reading and reviewing Love Wins by Rob Bell. I came loaded to bear, having read all the best counter arguments to this garbage-trove of heretical blasphemy. I even had a binder with copies for everyone of some of the best stuff I’d found that destroyed Bell’s book.
As we each took our turn (25+ people) introducing ourselves it became clear that I was in a more secular environment than I had anticipated. Then the bomb dropped when one of the more vocal ladies said that she was thankful that there were none of those trouble-making-evangelical-Christians in attendance to cause problems. WHOOPS……my turn.
“Hi. My name is Melissa, I’m an evangelical Christian from the Bible Belt.” [Crickets]
This was a pro-Rob Bell book club. Normally, if I find myself in ill-suited situations, I just move away but my curiosity as to how people think got the better of me. I had no idea how this would stir my soul for the lost. Each night I heard people denying the truth of scripture and making up their own more comfortable beliefs about heaven and hell. I was sickened and deeply saddened for their eternal souls. I cried and prayed myself to sleep each night imagining those people screaming in hell. I’ve never been so thankful for my own salvation and all of the difficulty and pain it took for God to save me. Why me and not them?
The weight and gravity of my position became crystal clear. God had placed me in this book club for His purposes. This was my Nineveh and I was convinced that God had picked the wrong person. I was going to screw this up big-time. So, each time we met, I was in constant prayer in my head for God to shut my mouth and only allow my words to be His words.
And then it happened.
As we came to the final horrible chapter of the book, the Episcopal priest in the group was asked to give his thoughts. He rambled on about God’s love being for everyone no matter their state of belief at death and then topped that brimstone-flavored sundae off with a truly poisonous cherry. He said, “We don’t really know what happens to us when we die. We are really just guessing”.
White hot anger shot through my being and there was a deafening roar in my ears blocking out the remainder of what Satan was saying. I could no longer hold my tongue and words began a rapid fire from my lips. I asked, “Then what was the whole point of Jesus dying on the cross? It meant something. It was our assurance of eternity with Him forever, if we believe..” I said much more for several minutes. The crowd was silent, attentive, and no one gave a rebuttal even in their facial expressions or body language. I felt no shame or embarrassment. I was not even the least bit worried about how these people felt about me. There was no way that I was going to let the precious gift and sacrifice of my Savior be trampled on by those arrogant little clerical shoes.
The truth had been said. God did this. It was not from my brain or strength. I could never have been so brave and formulated such a succinct, eloquent witness of Christ’s life and purpose off the cuff. Most times it takes me a whole week to write just one blog post.
As we were leaving the room, two college students came up to me, hugged me and thanked me for my faith in Christ. The girl had tears in her eyes and I could tell she did not want to let me go. She wanted to say more but stopped herself. All of this may just have been for those two. I’ll never know.
What I do know is that this was proof positive that God’s words in Acts 1:8 and 2 Corinthians 2:14 are true. All of this work is HIS. He spreads. He draws. He is mighty to save. All we have to do is obey and grow as directed by HIS Holy Spirit.
There is more hope and more to know on spiritual growth. I hope you will subscribe to this blog and keep learning all God has to teach through these lessons taught by Pastor Steve Wilson of Grace Community Church of Bowling Green. You can listen ahead to next week’s lesson here: Stumbling Steps, December 3, 2017.