Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Doing the Impossible

As I begin let me admit that, yes, some things are impossible. As a true blooded Texan that is hard for me to say, but it is true. The Lone Star state was built by people who believed they could make something out of sand dunes and prairie grass and the funny thing is they suceeded. True, they had to raise sheep and goats rather than cattle and today many ranchers in West Texas make more from leasing their land for deer hunting than anything else, but a little flexibility goes a long way to overcoming obstacles.

I have noticed through the years though that many people don't have this attitude. I'm thinking particularly among brethren. You know him (or her)--no matter what is suggested they quickly trot out all the reasons it can't be done or why it will fail, even if you can do it. I am confronted frequently with such brethren and it's amazing how much some spend telling you why it can't be done, and more especially why they can't do it. Such pessimism simply feeds upon itself--since nothing can be done, why even try? We hear, "Nobody wants to hear the Gospel today" or "Nobody cares about 'truth' nowadays". Believing this what few efforts they make to talk to others are half-hearted or their lack of confidence is so obvious that they make no progress, which only reinforces them in their belief that "nobody cares about God"--you fill in the blank with "today" or "in this area", etc. Such attitudes can stifle a church really fast, leading to a slow death in many churches.

On the other hand there are brethren who live in a fantasy world, where anything can be done. If you're over the age of 25 you've probably figured out this world is not real--there are way too many people who seem to think their purpose in life is to stand in your way. Customer service is variable once you leave the South. When we first moved to the Caribbean I used to argue with cashiers at KFC--"why can't I have fries instead of mashed potatoes?" but soon learned it was futile. If the picture shows mashed potatoes and corn on the cob, that's all you can get, period. Yes, some things are impossible--in my humble opinion food choices shouldn't be one of them, but what do I know?

Brethren, if we would spend as much time thinking about how something could be done as some do in finding/making up reasons it can't be done I think we would be amazed at what the Lord can do through us. Yes, anything worth doing is likely to be hard, or at least have hurdles to overcome, but with the Lord's help we can do it. The apostle Paul had a thorn in the flesh that was a hindrance to his work. He begged the Lord 3 times to heal him, but the Lord's reply was "my grace is sufficient for you". Rather than spend his time lamenting what he couldn't do because of his "thorn", or always looking back at what he used to do "before he had the thorn" Paul relied on God and found ways to overcome it.

There is a world of people who need salvation--what are you doing to reach them? Yes, it is impossible to save everyone--they won't let you, but some of them can be saved. "But I've tried, and it hasn't worked." If one method hasn't worked, then sit down and think about what might work, then give it a try. Gospel meetings in most places in the States don't bring many non-Christians out to hear the Gospel anymore. I believe Gospel meetings serve a very valuable purpose--strengthening and encouraging the local church, if nothing else, but if they don't serve as a point of contact with non-Christians then we need to think about what will.

Instead of lamenting over what doesn't work, don't give up--sit down and think. Certainly the things some churches do are wrong--unscriptural and we can't follow in their footsteps, even if they "seem" to work. The wrong road will not take you to where you want to go, no matter how easy it seems to be. But there are things that we can do--talk to others, brainstorm, in short look for ways around the obstacles, don't just give up because there are obstacles.

Tol

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While success to us as Christians is (or hopefully should be) measured quite differently than the standards of the rest of the world---your post makes me think of a really neat quote I just saw yesterday, "The road to success is always under construction."

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