Tell me if this sounds familiar.
You are a Christian. You have been raised in your faith and have known about it your entire life. You went to church 13 times a week, spent countless summers at Bible Camp and even went to a Christian College. Then for whatever reason, you got sick of “the Bubble.”
You left for a while and enjoyed some sin. You discovered what the world was like on Sunday mornings between 10-12. You learned that one drop of alcohol will not give you a liver disease. You enjoyed having an extra 10 percent of your paycheck in your pocket. You found a life outside of the churchhouse.
Then you wised up and realized that although that was fun for a couple weeks/months/year, you still felt empty because deep down inside, you still held close to your Christian faith. You still believed it and you knew that you were doing wrong. So you have come back to Christ and He has welcomed you with open arms.
But now you face a problem bigger than your secret tobacco addiction, more intimidating than your “spiritual re-virginizing” and scarier than publicly giving your testimony.
You are now associated with His followers.
Now this wouldn’t be so bad normally, but since you have gone out into the world, your view of the world has changed. You have seen the sin of the world first hand. You have experienced it. Tasted it. Rolled around in it, like a pig in the mud.
You have seen addiction first hand. You have seen how lives are secretly destroyed and tormented by the effects of sin. You have made friend with good people, who you know are not “saved” and you just don’t know how to witness to them.
Then to make matters worse, your “brothers and sisters in Christ” have created a model, a stigma, a perception, of what Christians are like. This is your nightmare.
Sound familiar? Ok, good. I am not the only one.
In my world, I work with several unsaved people. The church calls them “sinners” (as if we aren’t all sinners). Let me tell you, Non-Christians know a lot about our faith. They just know the wrong stuff.
On one hand my past mistakes and testimony brings me to a common ground, a place where we can relate. I have experienced many of the same problems that they have had and have committed many of the same sins. They think I am “cool.” They consider me a friend.
Then I tell them I am a Christian and they look at me like I am crazy. The minute my faith is made known, I don’t have to say another word. Suddenly, I get a life story about how First Church of the Frigidaire said this about their mom when she got divorced and how Pastor Billy Bob takes four offerings per service and has a jet. They talk about how Christians hate gays and how all we do is speak in tongues and flop around on the floor.
Then they put two and two together and realize, I must be like that. These assumptions come out of nowhere and suddenly I am classified as this Christian who has done all these things to them. They use phrases like, “you know how it says in the Bible something like …” or “I pray all the time, every night before I go to bed” or “I just don’t go to church.”
It takes everything within me to not defend my faith, on the spot. It takes all the courage I can muster to not give them the Romans Road to salvation on the spot, hoping to lead them in the Sinner’s Prayer right there in the break room. Instead, I leave them with one statement and one statement only. It’s always the same.
“What you experienced, is not Jesus. I am sorry that my faith has brought you hurt and confusion. Please forgive me and my fellow Christians. I want to be like Jesus, not those people.”
I don’t witness to them.
I don’t hand them a track.
I don’t tell them that I will pray for them.
In 1 Corinthians 3:6-9, Paul is talking about how he planted the seed and how Apollos watered it, but only God made it grow. He says specifically in verse 7, “It’s not important who does the planting and who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.” Whether we are planting or watering, it doesn’t matter, we all have the same purpose. But it is God who makes it all grow.
In John 4:34-38, we learn about “spiritual farming.” Jesus is clear that some people plant, some harvest. In verse 38, He even says, “I sent you to harvest where you did not plant.” That sounds great! The hard part is done. Or is it?
This is where the perception scares me. So many of my fellow Christians want to be harvesters. No one wants to plant. Planting is hard. The sun is hot. Takes more time. No instant benefit. But everyone wants to harvest. You see the results. Sometimes, God will call us to harvest, immediately, on someone else’s plants. But that doesn’t mean we can never plant and water the seed. It has to grow.
It’s like we have a bunch of farmers (Christians). They are walking in the field (the world). They are looking for plants to harvest (souls to be won). But nothing has been planted. Nothing has been watered. So instead, they are spending all their energy wondering around in the hot sun. But because nothing has been planted, there is nothing to harvest! Even worse, they expect to go to another farmer’s field and harvest his crops!
They plant their fields and the next day they run back out to the field and try to harvest it. It hasn’t even budded yet and they want to bring in the tractors and get the harvest. It takes time. You plant. You water. God grows it. When it ready, you harvest.
So many times, we as Christians, talk with sinners. We want to plant the seed and immediately harvest it.
Getting back to the scenario, we want to interrupt a sinner who may just have questions about our faith and immediately confront their sin (plant the seed). We want to water it (convince them they are wrong). And then we want them to repent on the spot (harvest time). Sometimes, as Christians, we are all perceived as a bunch of farmers with pitch forks and sickles just trying to harvest others farmers crops.
I can see why we aren’t leading people to Christ. Because his followers don’t want to plant and water the seed. They just want to harvest
I want to be like Jesus. But being like Jesus means I am more concerned about the growth of the plant than the harvesting of the plant. When it is time to harvest, I will know. But it can never be harvested if it isn’t planted, watered and then grown, by God.
To say a cliché, I want to win souls for the kingdom just as much as the next guy. But if I have to plant and water some seed in order for someone else to reap the harvest, then so be it. I pray that we as Christians all realize that we all have the same purpose. Let’s let God decide when the crops are fully grown.