“Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart (give me an undivided heart) to fear Your name [care more about what You think than others, and to do things Your way]” (Psalm 86:11).
God’s truth is absolute, but wisdom teaches us to rely on the Lord for application. God never changes. He said “I Am that I Am” for all eternity. Times change, people change, and God’s way is dynamic. He is a Living God who brings us the Living Word by the Holy Spirit. So, it has been my daily prayer for years: “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth,” knowing that I must be ever learning from Him and that, in faith, I’ll be empowered to do so.
Churchianity has its ways and traditions that are not always God’s ways. Even Bible-believing Christians can fall into habits of spiritual activity that are really just tradition. We are comfortable learning and applying certain set ways to life and ministry, even if they are no longer effective, or only effective through prayer and hearing from Him. Holy Spirit may have given a person or a church a certain method, useful for the time. The truths of God’s Word never change, but methods and application must, and we must be open to fresh Holy Spirit revelation for our time.
Be prepared to share the Good News, but wait until you know how
Evangelism is a case in point. One method fits all is not effective in reaching the lost. We must rely on Holy Spirit in every situation and pray, “Show me Your way today.” Even as Jesus told His disciples (including us) to “Go,” but first “Wait” – wait for the promise of the Father (the outpouring of the Holy Spirit), so, we should be prepared to share the Good New at any time (“Be instant [ready] in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2)). But also, we should be ready to “wait” for Holy Spirit to show use just how and when to share the Word.
Sister Emily made a good point as we were sharing at Life Group one recent Monday evening. To reach unbelievers we must realize they are all different individuals with different backgrounds and life experience. There are so many people deeply hurt out there by abuse, wrong teaching, lack of love, etc., that we cannot use a “one method fits all” approach. Her comment reminded me of my long-held convictions concerning evangelism.
For instance, you cannot start out saying “God loves you” to someone raised as a nominal Christian but abused. They don’t see God’s love – they often believe God can’t love them. So we depend on the Holy Spirit and let Him, who knows all hearts, give us the plan. It may be that at first, we ourselves need to consistently love them, and, as Emily noted, pray that others would too, until they are ready to receive.
Others, if you tell them first off that they are a sinner, will become defensive and reject anything you say. But, as you pray for them and reach out to them, the Holy Spirit will give you the words and approach to use with them. Jesus accepts people just as they are; then, when He has their heart, Holy Spirit will show them their sin. If we care, we want to be effective in bringing people to the Lord, so we need to put aside our pat answers and ways in which we may be comfortable, and seek the Lord.
Prayer and love and sensitivity are always in order, but remember, the Word of God is the Living Word, so the Lord can speak to our hearts by His Spirit how to use it effectively. We know that it is His will that all be saved. His Grace is for all. So, we can be confident that He is with us as we seek Him on how to bring forth the Good News. He’ll show us if we are to start by prayer for healing, reaching out in love and compassion, pointing out obvious sin, or whatever. Don’t be afraid of not including the whole Gospel. Get in the door, and the rest will come.
We are always to share the Good News, but how and the timing are significant in order for different people to receive and get beyond blockages. The Gospel has great power in its own right, when rightly applied.
Remember, most people have heard a lot of preaching and evangelism, but have turned it off because the church has fallen short with many Christians not showing forth the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Those performing their so-called “spiritual duty,” without the leading of the Spirit, have closed them down.
But, as we ourselves are being transformed, the compassion of Christ for others will rise to the top, and, with prayer and faith and love, we will be effective to reach out and bring hurting people into the Kingdom, where their hearts and lives can be healed.
We want to do more than get a person to say a salvation prayer and make a sometimes momentary decision. We want these converts to experience new hearts and to grow into disciples who trust in Jesus, are filled with the Spirit and allow the Lord to live through their lives. That takes prayer; that takes caring; that takes being sensitive to the Spirit; that takes going the extra mile to follow up with them, or to see that they are hooked up with believers where they will grow.
Things are accelerating in the spiritual realm in these last days, and the Lord is calling us out of complacency to grow strong and be available to Him and be partners in His great desire to bring in the full harvest before He returns. Let us let Him teach us His ways.
Follow Jesus – His way is shown in the Word and by the Holy Spirit