Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Chasing after people takes longer when they are moving away from you rather than towards you. Yet we continue to do it as that is the Christian thing to do.

Some of the people we have met responded warmly to our Gospel message, and to our offer to train them in telling their story and explaining the Gospel, and planting churches. Yet they have failed to be home at the arranged time, and failed to return calls or texts. So we eventually catch up with them, and they express the same enthusiasm as previously - but again are out (or hiding) when the appointed time comes - with no explanation or apology. So we try all over again.

I don't think this is biblical, or what Jesus did. Yes he welcomed people with all their sin and mess and brokenness, but he also expected them to change - "sin no more," "give back to the people you've ripped off." Jesus wholeheartedly and unreservedly embraced people as they were, but then demanded repentance, which involved a changed life, then moved on, apparently without feeling the need to offer a comprehensive support package, or repeatedly chase those who fell away. Indeed the parable of the sower suggests that this is inevitable, even when the one sowing is the Son of God himself.

Jesus of course went further - at times he made it incredibly hard for people to follow him, seemingly doing his best to put them off. The rich young guy was told to sell everything he had and give it away. Nicodemus, proud of his heritage, was told he must be "born again."

I am fearful that in constantly chasing after people we are doing little more than making ourselves feel good and ensuring unhealthy dependency. While Jesus did address crowds, he also sent out 72, and prioritised his training of the 12 disciples. He did not chase after the rebellious, but poured himself into the willing and committed. A lesson to be learnt?

3 comments:

  1. Hi Phil;
    I struggle with the same issue. As I have been pondering it I thought as you have that Jesus did not ‘chase after people’ (though I want to keep the shepherd looking for the one lost sheep in mind) I also realized that he seldom taught (trained0 in any sort of formal setting. I have decided to teach (train) people ‘along the way’. I invite people to hang out with me while I go about my day and I share as we move along. I find that this is messy and hard to report on and I am frustrated sometimes because I repeat myself often as new people join up. It seems to require a lot of patience and intentionality but in my, admittedly limited experience so far, it has a relational and organic feel. You might like to incorporate this style into your ‘tool box’.
    <>< Reed

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  2. I agree. I've recently made a decision to have one last catch up with a number of people I have followed up regularly. They are taking time - time that could be well spent with those who are keen. Perhaps it's not their time yet - if Jesus could trust those he left to His Father then surely I can.

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  3. Good People!

    We have exactly the same issue in OZ (Airds and MAc Fields) so I'm encouraged by what I read. Im especially encouraged by reading what Phil wrote about Jesus, ndeed Jesus even sent people away (Legion) who wanted to follow him!!

    I suppose what Im thinking is we need to keep close to the Lord and "do what we see the Father doing" kind of thing.......easier said then done

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