Tuesday, November 25, 2008

never just one

If you asked me who taught me how to speak English, how would I answer that? I could tell you that it started with my parents. Then it was my elementary school teachers who taught me the basics of grammar. It was my high school teachers who taught me SAT vocabulary words and how to write correctly. It was my college professors who taught me how to write big papers and how to make speeches. And it was my friends all along the way that shaped my slang, pronunciation and dialect.

There has been a long line of people who have influenced the way I speak the English language. It would be really difficult to try to nail down just one person who "taught" me English. And so it is with our spiritual lives.

Often Christians are told stories of "evangelism" where one person "leads" another person to believe in Christ. The end of the story is usually a prayer of some kind. But these stories are like watching a 30 second clip of a 3 hour movie. You might get the climax of the movie in those 30 seconds, but it isn't the whole story.

The truth is that there is almost never a time where it is just one person who leads someone to Christ. Usually there is a whole lineage of people who took part in doing little things to shape an individual's spirituality. There are people praying in the background that we may have never known about. There are Sunday School teachers from our childhood, crazy extended family members who are all about Jesus, and co-workers that exhibit a quiet yet powerful faith. There are little influences and big influences that all lead up to us finally giving our life fully to Christ.

But the story doesn't even end there. There is usually a host of new people who then pick up the baton and help shape us in the process of discipleship and spiritual growth. There were prophets who came before Christ and apostles who came after Him. In the same way, we have people who influence us in the direction of Christ before we believe and those who shape our life after we believe. And hopefully there are people who are there with us during both parts of our spiritual journey.

But for too long Christians have believed in the myth of the "evangelist," as if we are supposed to be a lone ranger leading people to Jesus. This is not how it has ever been, nor how it will ever be. The transformation of lives will happen in community, by community. Our job is just to be a link in the chain as we help our friends take that next step toward Christ.

We can't take credit for what happened before we got there and we can't take credit for what happens after we leave. In the end, God gets the credit for all that He does to orchestrate these great clouds of witnesses which end up changing people's lives. For us, it is an honor just to play a small part in God's big plan.


At 9:39 PM, Anonymous LouMess said...

Word up, brother Mark.


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