April 29, 2017

Deuteronomy 11:2 Remember today that your children were not the ones who saw and experienced the discipline of the Lord your God: his majesty, his mighty hand, his outstretched arm.

We tend to forget that other people haven’t experienced God in the same way we have. God loves and deals with each person equally, but that takes a different form with each individual. We tend to gather with those who have had similar experiences of God and then wonder why others don’t join us. The answer is often that they haven’t experienced God the same way we have. That’s the whole point of testifying of our experiences. We have the Biblical record of what God has done with mankind (which Moses was just starting to write) but for the average person it seems distant and unconnected to them. That’s why the most effective evangelism is simply one person sharing with another what they have actually experienced of God. Precisely because it is effective, the devil does all he can to keep it from happening. Making disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) starts with being witnesses (Acts 1:8). Sometimes we think our experience of God is too insignificant to be worth sharing, but that is a deception of the devil. A small percentage of people have dramatic experiences with God that awe everyone that hears about them, but even they often hesitate to share. The vast majority of Christians have only had smaller, less dramatic experiences, but that’s the kind of life most people live, so sharing such experiences is all the more persuasive. If we think, “I could never testify because I’ve never been saved from drug addiction,” or whatever, then we will deprive others of the opportunity to encounter God who loves them regardless of what they have or haven’t done.

My own life experiences have been unusual, from the viewpoint of most of the people around me, precisely because I’ve been steeped in faith from before my birth. That’s pretty hard for a Japanese who has never entered a church building to relate to! That, coupled with my Teacher gifting, has tended to make me focus on sharing Biblical truth exclusively. Biblical truth is great, but if I don’t connect it to where people are in their daily lives, it simply isn’t going to penetrate. I have tried to encourage believers to share more, but they look at me and think they could never do it the way I do, and so they don’t want to try. My point is, my way isn’t the most effective for drawing people into the family of God! An exegesis of Paul’s theology might be appropriate for a believers’ Bible study, but it’s hardly effective evangelism! Tomorrow will be a service of singing and testimonies, with no “sermon” as such. We don’t expect many, if any, non-believers to be present, but I hope to use the CD I will make of the service to share with several people. My prayer is that this will mark a break-through in this church, with the believers realizing that what God has done for and with them is significant, and He wants to use them to draw others to Himself.

Father, the feeling that You really are taking us to a new level in Your plan is exciting. Help me not get in the way or try to control what is going on, but keep me also from being passive, failing to apply myself in the ways You indicate. May we change, may I change, in the ways You know are needed, so that we may be the powerful, effective part of the Body of Christ that You intend us to be, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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