Perspective. I have been thinking about what it is that separates the way believers and un- or not yet-believers view the Bible. Not the text of the Bible per se, but the message that the text reveals.
It is obvious that each group reads the text differently. It is as if the rest of the world has a broken connection in their brain that prevents them from getting from here to there. They just dont see the message. But suddenly, when born again, it is like something falls from their eyes and they can see. The missing pieces suddenly are obvious and everything falls right into place.
I just had an interesting insight that I need to think about a lot more. I have this sense that we cannot move a person one nanometer toward salvation by any argument, proof, or other effort on our part. However, we can push, shove, cause people to flee away until they appear many, many miles away from any chance at redemption. Only God brings about the change that transforms blindness into sight, ignorance into understanding, deafness into open ears.
I know that insight is obvious to most Christians. However here is what makes it different for me: the Holy Spirit. He is the spirit of truth who points to the actual truth, Jesus Christ. Without the spirit being involved, all discussion, argument, cajoling–all whatever, is useless. Even though God says in Isaiah 55:11 that his Word will not return to him empty, which is a much quoted argument for just about any effort at getting the Word out, most people don’t pay much attention to the last half of that verse–
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Powerful stuff when you consider that everything hinges on God’s purpose and the fact that he sends it out. While he may use us as his delivery agent (hmmm, a spiritual FedEx man… 😉 ), it is totally at his discretion on the results. This is not an electrical circuit where you can choose to throw the switch and Walla! Light. We can hit the switch all we want, but until the Holy Spirit supplies the power, current, spiritual renewal or rebirth, the effort will be fruitless, nada, nothing.
Where does that leave us. Spending a lot more time praying for the Spirit to bless and guide our efforts than actually the time it takes to do it. It is not without cause and effect that practice is usually radically disproportionate to the actual competition. We practice many hours more than we play. We need to pray many hours more than we witness.
For the remainder of Lent, I have discovered what I am lacking, and I need to see if I can rectify it with my remaining Lenten observance. I do not pray remotely enough in preparation for sharing the gospel or even just living out a walking, talking billboard for the gospel. It is said that Luther prayed for several hours in the morning before starting his day. He considered that there was a direct correlation between prayer time and success at anything else.
So, if God brings me to mind, pray for my prayer life and that God will be both forgiving and gracious with me as I attempt to deal with this shortcoming.
May the Lord bless you and keep you and may he grant you the grace necessary for you lto be able to isten to every whisper of his still small voice, the voice of God speaking to us quietly so that we have to pay very close attention, making what he is saying the primary thing. Amen.