God’s Strategy of Spreading His Story
A made-up story is told of Jesus’ return to heaven after His time on earth. The angel Gabriel approached Him and asked, “Master, do they know all about how You loved them and about what You did for them?”
“No,” Jesus replied, “not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”
Gabriel was perplexed. “Then what have You done to let everyone know about Your love for them?”
Jesus said, “I’ve asked Peter, James, John, and a few others to tell people about Me. Those who are told will tell others, and My story will spread throughout the earth. Ultimately, people all around the world will know about My love.”
Gabriel frowned, “But what if they fail? Do you have another plan?”
Jesus answered, “No. I’m counting on them.”
Though the conversation is fictional, the message it conveys is accurate: For some strange reason, God has chosen to spread His story throughout the world through fallible people like you and me.
In his book, Severe Mercy, Sheldon Van Auken writes a few sentences that should deeply challenge and humble every Christian. He writes, “The best argument for Christianity is Christians—their joy, their certainty, their completeness. But the strongest argument against Christianity is also Christians—when they’re self-righteous and smug in complacent consecration. When they’re narrow and repressive, then Christianity dies a thousand deaths.”
We have the capacity to attract people to Christ or to repulse people from Christ, depending on whether we reveal to others the love and joy and goodness Christ is growing in us, or whether hypocrisy, nasty attitudes, and self-interest flow out of us.
From what Paul shares in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, God’s strategy was working in Thessalonica: “The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia—your faith in God has become known everywhere.”
People from northern to southern Greece and beyond were being drawn to Christ because of what they saw in the Thessalonian believers.
God’s strategy worked in my life, too—particularly through a woman named Fran Watron. She was my Sunday School teacher when I was a rowdy, obnoxious and rebellious Junior High School student, but I watched her conduct herself consistently with love and joy and goodness. Despite her struggles with debilitating rheumatoid arthritis, she exhibited peace, patience, endurance and joy. I watched the compassionate and caring way she interacted with a friend of hers who lived with severe Cerebral Palsy. I experienced her incredible patience toward me and her caring interest in me. Through her I was drawn to Christ.
God’s strategy is both risky and wonderful. Tragically, many people have run away from Christ because of the hypocrisy, nasty attitudes and selfishness they have encountered in Christians. But others, like myself, have been drawn to Christ through the love and joy and goodness of Christians we have known.
I pray for God to prune from my life those attributes in me that drive others away from Christ, and I pray for God to grow in me the fruit of the Spirit that will draw others to Christ: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.