To Following Willingly
Several months ago I wrote about Revelation 3:20 and a painting of Jesus that portrays this verse that hangs in my in-laws house and in my own living room. This is a great verse to ponder in preparation for Thanksgiving because it talks about Jesus coming in to eat with us.
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20.
Although Jesus will come dwell and dine with all who open the door and welcome Him, He is ever the gentleman. He will not knock the door down and force anyone to believe in Him. It is a choice we are all given whether to welcome Him into our lives and hearts.
In the book we are reading for our adult education class at church — The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman — the author points out another instance in which Jesus did not force Himself on others. Talking about John 6:60-69, Coleman notes that Jesus did not force any of those who followed Him to accept His teaching if they did not want to. “The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll.” The Master Plan of Evangelism pg. 45. There was truth to be taught and a price to pay in terms of giving up one’s selfish desires for those who willing chose to follow Him.
It seems that some churches today have forgotten this principle. They do not simply teach the truth and leave it to the individual whether to believe and follow as Jesus did. Instead, they run after people with offers of compromise and programs to fill their selfish desires for entertainment and instant gratification, all to increase membership numbers. Rather than focus on the quality of teaching and the depth of commitment of the congregation, they focus on sheer numbers.
I’m not suggesting that increasing the number of believers is not a laudable goal. The early church began with only 120 members, as recorded in Acts 1:15, but quickly grew. After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter preached the Gospel to the people gathered around. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41. But each of those disciples who believed was then taught what was necessary to be a disciple. The church grew not only in numbers but in wisdom.
Jesus will not force any to follow Him, but those who do will be blessed beyond measure. The price for such blessing is to surrender one’s own will in exchange for the will of God. It may seem a high price to pay, but it’s really a bargain. Are you willing to pay the price? If you do, your life will never be the same.
Thank you Linda, for always sharing what God asks you to. I had to chuckle at Ann’s basket weaving comment. Sorry . . .I know this isn’t a funny subject. And I’ve been there in church, teaching and helping with the children, and falling into how I could keep them entertained more than anything. So . . .guilty. The more we stray from the main thing, Jesus, the more complicated and diluted His message gets.
God bless you for helping us stay on track! deb
Deb, It’s okay. I chuckled at basket weaving, too. But seriously I do think the churches need to just focus on Jesus, point people to Jesus, develope relationships based on God’s love, and the numbers will follow. Jesus said if He was lifted up people would come. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I’ll be making apple stuffing. 🙂 Peace, Linda
I’m pondering this section of your post:-
“It seems that some churches today have forgotten this principle. They do not simply teach the truth and leave it to the individual whether to believe and follow as Jesus did. Instead, they run after people with offers of compromise and programs to fill their selfish desires for entertainment and instant gratification, all to increase membership numbers. ”
How did we get here? I pray God would open our eyes and understanding that we would walk in His ways…that we would love the things He loves and teach others as He did. It’s not about the bells and whistles. These things add up to zero if our efforts at evangelism cause others to miss the mark.
I really and truly pray that we arise from our slumbering state before the cry of the Bridegroom is heard. The fields are ready, He says. It’s harvest time but we seem to be holding ‘basket weaving classes’ instead of bring the full truth of the gospel to those who are perishing.
Thanks for this timely reminder.
In His service,
Ann, This has been what He has been impressing upon me more and more over the past year. When others in the church talk of what we need to do to increase numbers my first thought is always that if we lift up the name of Jesus they will come. I love your analogy to “basket weaving classes”! I found myself shaking my head in agreement when I read that. I also pray that the Church will arise from our slumber in time lest we be away getting more oil for our lamps and the doors of the banquet be closed in our absence. Peace, Linda