“…for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Many times I have felt, in misguided zeal, that the only way for God to move was through the direct actions of my hands or mouth. This can be seen first in the incredible burden I felt in middle school, when an abject terror of the end times had me mourning the loss of what was surely to be thousands (or at least hundreds) of lost souls at my incapable evangelistic hands, secondarily through the times when my desire to save others has led to spiritual force-feeding rather than love, and thirdly through the times when my desire to save others has led to devastating consequences to my own mental or emotional health.
However, fact: It is not my job to save others. I am not Jesus Christ.
The thing about God is, He’s everywhere. Literally. And for the longest time, I would have told you that if you asked, but really acted as though he weren’t. I would get so wound up feeling as though I had to bring God somewhere, all the while forgetting He was already there. It was as if God were somehow tied to me and could only go where I might lead. This is an exceedingly dangerous attitude, not only in that it reverses the roles of God and myself, but in that it also detracts from my understanding of His relationship with others, as though He’s somehow holding back His love and pursuit from them until I get to their name on the list. This of course is malarkey. Believe me, I’m not that worthy, and even if I were, that is not how God works. He’s there with everyone. All the time. Really.
See, not believing in oxygen doesn’t mean you aren’t breathing it, and likewise not accepting a relationship with Jesus doesn’t mean you aren’t in one (in a “He’s still pursuing you one-sided or no” way, not a “everyone is inherently in relationship and thereby saved” way). I don’t mean this to be confrontational or forceful, that would perhaps be the exact opposite of the point this post is trying to make. What I mean is that, if I really believe that God is who and/or what the Bible says He is, then I believe His desire is for everyone to be saved, that he would leave the 99 sheep for the one gone astray–and is in fact pursuing them right now, and that as an unlimited, unconditionally loving Father, as much as I might love anyone in my life, even those most precious to me, He loves them infinitely more. Likewise any grief I may feel for them is felt far more by God.
So what does that mean? How does that shift in perspective change my life?
Well, for one thing it means trusting God instead of me. If He loves them infinitely more than I do and knows infinitely more about them and their lives than I do, then of the two of us, He’s going to know and act best. That means surrendering my plans to His, even if I don’t understand.
Secondarily, working from a biblical perspective with Jesus as the example, it means allowing free will. For so long I would get so frenetic when my attempts to “save” people (again, not my job) from anything from bad habits to the fires of hell wouldn’t work. I would try just about anything to get them to change, and get so frustrated when I didn’t see any “improvement.”
Except, this is not unconditional love and it certainly isn’t trusting God.
I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where Jesus forces anyone to follow him. Had those first disciples stayed on their boats, I don’t think he would have nagged them on the shore or whipped up a storm to wash them in. That’s not what love is about. That’s why God left the tree in the Garden and why we, trying to emulate Him, need to let people choose their own paths. Jesus loved everyone as they were, offered them the chance, and let God take care of the rest. That is our model.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Life takes time. I’m not saying we should be passive about the souls of others or not speak up or support them when it’s appropriate to do so (remember, we are to provide guidance to and hold accountable those within the church and not judge those without). What I mean is God uses many ways to call His children and takes them all down different paths. Recognizing God’s presence and work in the lives of others, even when I can’t see it myself, has been incredibly freeing. I only hope this post does the same, in some small way, for you.
Freedom in Christ,
P.S. Click here for post soundtrack, haha.