Thursday, August 03, 2006
The Bookkeeping of Evangelism
We love to count and measure our performance. At home we carry lists - either on paper or tucked into the back of our mind for the tasks we intend to complete. At the office, everything is calculated and recalculated to determine the success or failure of an employee, product line, or the entire organization. Yes, humans love to count and I would venture that even as Adam was naming the animals in the Garden - he kept count.
But, when does counting cross over the line into sin?
We are all charged to evangelize the world in the name of Jesus. Jesus used many parables to describe this evangelism, but my favorite is the farmer 'broadcasting' seed across his field. Some seed fell on rocky soil. Some seed was snatched away by the birds and some grew among the weeds. But, the good seed germinated, grew and blossomed.
When we broadcast seed to create a lawn, do we count the seed before it is thrown down? When the seed germinates and starts to grow, do we crawl over it with a calculator to count the blades of grass? No. Then why do we feel the need to count those who have come to God?
In the thirty plus years of sharing my faith, I seldom saw the fruits of this labor. I believe this was no accident; it was God's design lest I become prideful in my own eyes. Evangelism is seldom started and completed by the same person. One person will plant the seed, another will water the seed and still another will provide the light or sunshine to allow that seed to grow.
Yet, even this is still too simplistic explanation for there is another force that is required - The Holy Spirit.
Every seed needs the Holy Spirit to germinate and grow. This Spirit does the real work of evangelism, and we are merely the helpmates. By planting and then praying over the seed we provide what God has instructed, but it is the Spirit of the Lord, through conviction, realization and then acceptance, that finally brings forth the birth of a new Christian.
"So the king said to Jo'ab and the commanders of the army, who were with him, "Go through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beer-sheba, and number the people, that I may know the number of the people." But Jo'ab said to the king, "May the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see it; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?" 2 Samuel 24:2-3 RSV