|A bunch of fresh asparagus....mmm, mmm, good!|
Having learned how to share my faith using the "Four Spiritual Laws" booklet of Campus Crusade for Christ and also having been trained in Evangelism Explosion, I am aware of how to tell someone the Good News of salvation in Christ. However, I cannot make someone open their heart and eyes to salvation. That, alone, is the work of the Holy Spirit of God. He is able to regenerate the heart so a man/woman can hear the call of Christ. Quite often at our Campus Crusade meetings, we were told to share our faith in the power of the Holy Spirit and let the results up to God. This was wisdom and sound advice. We cannot change the heart, but God can.
In the same way, we cannot make someone grow up in the Lord. We can provide them with tools, love them and point the way, but we cannot speed up the process. Again, it is not on our timetable. What we can do is live before them in such a way that they will see our example and want to grow themselves.
Many years ago, I sat through a number of classes at Dunklin Memorial Camp where Pastor Mickey Evans taught. He shared an all important concept called "The Bombshell Theory". It goes like this:
"I cannot change another person by any direct action on my part. I can only change myself, by God's grace. Others may have a tendency to change in reaction to my change." The operative word is "may". Others "may" change or they may not. However, the results are up to God...not up to me. How does this fit with the Christian life? It simply means that we (who are commanded by the Lord to share our faith and make disciples of all nations) cannot force someone to accept Christ as Savior. Neither can we change their thinking, actions, or ideas by any direct action on our part. We can, however, live before them in such a way that they will be able to see the difference in our lives. This means we need to work on our own lives and deal with any sin which tarnishes our witness.
Further, we can pray for those for whom we have concern. This is perhaps the most important work when it comes to seeing change in both our life and the lives of those we have shared with. Scripture teaches in Philippians 4:6-7: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." There is power in prayer as we lift up others and our concern for them. God gives us peace as we roll our burdens on Him.
Finally, if we want to be a shining light before others, we need to be a people who are in the Word of God. As we fill our hearts with His Word, it will change our thinking, correct our behavior, and keep us on the right path. Hebrews 4:12 tells us: "For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." Daily study of God's Word as well as sitting under good expository preaching of the Bible will help us to be the type of salt and light that the Lord has called us to be. This has a greater impact on others than all the arguments we can muster.
Argumentation and debate may reveal our knowledge of God's Word, but this alone does not bring about salvation. God is the one who calls, regenerates and gives us a new heart. We have to realize that it is not our job to "fix" others or manipulate them into making a profession of faith or for that matter, making another Christian grow. We are ambassadors whose job it is to represent, by our lives as well as our words, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Picture courtesy of Wikimedia by Muffet at Flickr.