Going the Distance
Christ’s Great Commission is to “Go into the world, making disciples of all nations…” Many Christians rightly take this commission with all the seriousness and passion it deserves…yet not all of the discernment.
They are right to see the eternal ramifications of people’s choice about Christ. They are right to love them enough to engage them on the most important question they can ever address. The problem arises when they try for an instant conversion.
It’s like meeting a girl on the street, saying, “Hi, my name is Frank. Here’s a church. Let’s get married.” Tends to frighten the poor gal off, and rightfully so.
Even Jesus, our perfect model, rarely did this. If you read His interactions with individuals, He usually addresses some peripheral need or issue and draws them around to who He is and their need for Him.
For most of us, there is a spiritual journey we must take before we are ready to consider the Gospel itself. Anyone hoping to guide us there must find us where we are and then take the time to lead us, dealing with physical, emotional and/or intellectual issues distracting us. Yet it seems some would-be evangelists assume the Gospel is a Star Trek transporter device, able to magically whisk folks from spiritual realms unknown to the undiscovered country with the mere reciting of a few one-liner principles like some incantation.
While it does sometimes work that way, it seems that God has set up this world primarily to move through time, that we live relationally in community, going the distance in each others’ lives. To us, this process is usually slower than we’d like, dirtier, more work, and so on. Yet the long 70ish years of our lives, are like a flashbulb in eternity. These years are moments with eternity as interest. We needn’t be hasty with them.