The last few days I’ve been talking about how to create a church that unchurched non-Christians want to come to and stay at. And I said we have to be grace wholesalers. But most churches and Christians won’t. Why?
Yesterday I said one reason is because people are messy and we’re afraid to dive into that chaos. But to follow Jesus, we must.
Another reason is because even if we’re willing to dive into the chaos, we don’t know how to clean it up. But here’s the good news: It’s not your job to clean it up. I love the way John Burke writes about this in No Perfect People Allowed. He points to 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.” Did you get that? The Bible says that God causes the growth.
This is freeing for those involved in ministry and the messiness of people’s lives. The Bible says that God causes the growth. God is what makes things grow. Paul uses a farming illustration. What can a farmer do to get crops? He can plant a seed. He can make sure it’s in good soil. He can water it. And that’s about it. He can’t make it grow. All he can do is create the right conditions for growth, and then trust.
The Bible says it’s the same for people doing ministry. All we can do is create the right conditions for growth, and then trust God that He will cause the growth. Now the messy person with the chaotic life, they have a choice, they have free will, and so they can allow God to cause them to grow, or they can not allow God to cause them to grow. They can give God room to work, and if they do, He will work in their lives. Or they can give God no room, in which case He won’t do His growing work in their lives. But that’s not your decision, it’s theirs’. And you cannot cause growth, only God can. It’s not your job to clean up their messiness.
Our job is to create the right conditions for growth. What kind of conditions are those? We’ll tackle that tomorrow.