In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Are we guaranteed that God in us attracts people?

Our pastor definitely has me thinking.

While I enjoyed today's sermon, I was uncomfortable with something the pastor said. It's not a huge issue, and it's even something I've said myself in the past; but at this point in my life I see it as a "Christian myth".

I'd like to tell you the "myth", explain why I don't believe it, and then hear your thoughts on it.

The Myth: If you really love God, and are really following His will for your life, then people will be so attracted to the Jesus in you that they will be approaching you and asking about God and so, you'll frequently be sharing your faith and leading people to God. Now the myth does not ignore the fact that many will be adverse to the gospel in general, it just affirms that if you're really loving God and living all out for Him, then many others (those who aren't adverse to the gospel) will be drawn to you.

Is it just me, or does this sound rather similar to the old faith healer myth about how if you don't receive your healing, then it's your fault because you must not really believe?

Just off the top of my head I have 5 concerns with this whole kind of thinking:

1. The emphasis is on what I do, when I think the emphasis should be on what God does.
Don't get me wrong, I fully recognize that we have our part in this life of faith. One of my favorite Bible passages is Philippians 2:12-13 (NIV) :

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

I think this passages shows that balance; we obey and engage in actions, but it's God's power that's enables us to do so.

2. It borders on being a formula - If you do your part, then God will do His, in just this way.
The older I get, the more I don't believe we can box God in. He's God and He does things His way. Frequently it doesn't end up being the way I had things figured. Sure there are principles that I can count on, but I have no guarantee how God is going to manifest those principles.

3. It has not been my experience.
While my experience is not everything, it is something. I have been a Christian for just under 4 decades and can count on one hand the times someone has come up to me and told me that they see something different in me and would I please tell them what it is. So while this has happened to me, it's obviously not been the norm. So, does this mean I don't love God enough? That I'm not obedient enough? Well, the truth is that the answer to both these questions is absolutely YES. I want and need to constantly be growing in my love for God, constantly becoming more aware and changing the way I live so that I can be more fully His. But my experience is that as imperfect as I am, God in His mercy, grace, love and goodness, because of who He is, chooses to bless me and use me anyway. It's just not about me.

4. It seems to have an underlying assumption that numbers count.
If you really love God, and are really living for Him, then you'll be constantly bringing people to Him. I sincerely believe this may or may not be true. I do not think God has the exact same plan for everyone. Some people greatly impact just a few people, while others impact masses.

5. Does this smack of guilt?
Is it just me or could this myth make some shy, obedient, loving, Believer feel like they're doing something wrong just because people aren't walking up to them all the time and asking they why they are different?

To be candid, I'm just thinking aloud on this issue. I'd welcome your input.

Do you believe that the common Christian thought that
If you really love God, and are really following His will for your life, then people will be so attracted to the Jesus in you that they will be approaching you and asking about God and so, you'll frequently be sharing your faith and leading people to God, is Truth or Myth? Why?

10 comments:

The Maryland Crustacean said...

Yes and no. Paul set up a nice dichotomy in 2 Corinthians 2:15-16
For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

There is an element of truth that as we live the Christian life and our light shines, it will get the attention of non-believers, but not always in a positive way, as Paul illustrates.

I can also appreciate your concern about how the message of the sermon can induce guilt; i.e., if you are not attactiving people by your behavior, you must be doing something wrong. That is not necessarily the case either. On the one hand, there is room for some healthy self-examination, and if that leads to more Christ-like behavior, great! However, such self examination should not lead to over introspection and self flagellation. Any righteousness we have is Jesus', not ours.

Michelle said...

My intitial thoughts on this were that people by nature hate God...and therefore, if you are in any way godly, you will gradually be set apart from the god haters and not draw them in. Is it Corinthians that states, the things of God are foolishness to man? It seems to me, godliness would be foolish to the average person. (i.e., our country and government.)


And then as I read on...other thoughts occured. Like, if we pay attention to how what we do for the sole purpose of people coming to us...wouldn't that lead to some self-righteous behavior. Shouldn't we obey and love because we seek to please God and not for other people to notice? Someone may never say anything but God can still use us in his or her life. It is the Holy Spirit that leads people to Christ through the means of truth and the gospel. When we start taking credit for leading people to Christ we may be starting to take credit from this very important part of the Trinity. It is not our actions, behaviors, and lives that should lead people to Christ...but the gospel...the news that they NEED Him because they are sinners and dead apart from Him. Once it is a certain lifestyle we seek to obtain we run the risk of falling into the prosperity gospel.

John Cowart said...

Rats!

And here I thought people were attracted to me because I'm so incredibly good looking!

But then I think of missionary heroes like Hudson Taylor or Adoniram Judson or Eleanor Chessnut--who worked for years in foreign lands before ever seeing one single convert. And, with some, the people they wanted to attract to Christ killed them.

No. Being attractive to people is a human standard having little to do with godliness. After all, the Lord we serve was despised and rejected of men.

Or, maybe I just need a better mouthwash to be popular.

David-FireAndGrace said...

The idea that we can be more attractive in Christ than another, is just more flesh talk. It is a veiled attempt at saying "you need to get right with God and get people saved"; nothing more.

The fragrance of Christ only comes out of us when we are doing God's will (being led by the Holy Spirit). Otherwise it is the flesh just doing religious stuff.

God cares about every thought, and every word we speak. He is serious about His will, and not all that into our will. Thank God for grace, because when I read this sort of nonsense, it makes me mad!

Here are some things I hear in church that make me cringe.

- So and so is a good person.
- I love em' but I don't like them.
- We're just not equipped to minister to folks like that.
- We need more commitment.
- We need more outreach.
- We need more _________.

It is these sorts of religious opinions that keep folks far from the living God. We only need more Jesus!

The church has a gospel that needs to be preached. This is the work of those who are evangelists. It is insane to think that all would have the gift of evangelism. There are those that bring many hundreds to Christ. Yet, for some reason, we want the pastor to do it all, or we all get out there taking names and handing out tracks without giving God a thought, or even asking Him his opinion.

Interestingly, salvation is only the doorway to Christianity, and we treat it like it is the goal. Conversely, one may come into contact with a number of Christians along the road to reaching that doorway. Just because we don't close the deal, are we less spiritual?

Tracy, other folks may just like you because you are easy to talk to, you are helpful, or friendly. You are not judgmental, things like that. When they are finally confronted with making a decision for Christ, they may in fact think of God as being like you were, and then step through the door.

Sermons that manipulate folks into feeling guilty are a waste of time.

The Holy Spirit can quietly convict, well, it the sermon is actually from God, and not a rehash of something the preacher read in Bill Hybel's last book.

How can we get so into pointing out this and that? True preaching doesn't name cal, imply guilt, but it is God's Spirit that does that work.

It will be a great day in church when our leaders teach and model hearing from God.

If you really are into getting others saved, I would suggest reading Power Evangelism by John Wimber. It is a simple and effective approach to bringing others closer to Christ, and learning to hear the Holy Spirit as you do.

I am working on a book entitled, Bringing Others to Christ Even if You Don't Have the Gift of Evangelism.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

The way we live should not be a reason to attract others to us, but we should do it because we love and honour our God.

When we love someone we do anything we can to please them. So is our way of life ... a way to please God.

God bless.

photogr said...

Tracy:

This brought to mind the other day when I was in another community. A man fell off his deck and had a seizure. The crowd around him was frantic and running around asking for help.

I felt an urge to travel through the community and down this particular street where I noticed the commotion. I instinctivley got out of the car and went to render help. Something immediately told me he had a seizure and to check his vital signs.

I was praying to God to help this person and guide me. I then felt the urge to move the people back from him and not to try to get him up. I asked for a sheet to put above him to divert the suns heat. I learned his name and spoke softly to him to be still that help was on the way when he began to move around. He opened his eyes shortly and passed back out.

When the medics arrived I backed away and watched them working to revive him before transporting him to the hospital.

As I watched the medics preparing him (David) to be transportd to the hospital some of the crowd walked over to me and asked if I was a pastor as they heard me praying for him and keeping him calm.

I asked why they would think that and one person stated usually when David has a seizure, he shakes violently but this time he was calm while I was quietly praying for him.

I had to tell them I was not but only a follower of Christ that wishes to minister onto others in need. One told me I should be a pastor. All I could say was maybe some day if God is willing.

I don't know if this is a myth or not that people will be drawn to one of the faith. Lately it seems that these types of happenings are becomming more frequent for me where I am placed in a position to minister to others. I don't go out looking for these happenings. It just happens when I least expect it.

On your last question. I really don't know but I seem to be put into positions to share Gods love and word more lately than ever before in my life.

photogr said...
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photogr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
photogr said...

Sorry. The post posted three times.

Tracy said...

Not to worry Larry, sometimes that happens. It's cool to read how God's using you in the lives of the people you meet daily. Interesting that people assume you're a minister just cuz you love people, reach out to them, and pray for them.

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