Volume 2 June 1, 2003 Issue 8

So You're a Christian — So What?

The world is filled with people working in all kinds of professions and doing all types of life's work. As I travel to work I notice Moms taking children to school. Their job starts early and probably ends late. For them their work is that of shaping a small person into a positive contributor to society. As I arrive at my office building I ride the elevator with other people in other lines of work, but all of us are going to do our days tasks. Sometimes the comments indicate that there is dread of what the day may bring. Other times, especially as the week is nearing its end, an air of optimism is more prevalent. In every case, for every person, the day will start and end and for the most part the only certainty is that each of us will be one day older, or will cease to age that very day.

"We are like a puff of wind; our days are like a passing shadow." (Psalm 144:4 TEV)

Regardless of what happens we have consumed a day of our life on this earth. How did it go? Do you want it back to do over? Would you do something different? Did you make a difference?

Life is filled with many encounters and each one has significance.

"...and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this? (Esther 4:14 KJV)

I talk with many people each day and sometimes get into very involved religious or philosophical conversations. The circumstances that allow these discussions to occur are random and rarely planned. I am amazed when I think of the fact that when a moment passes it can never again be exactly duplicated. It is a moment of its very own. The involvement we have with others is usually filled with conversations that avoid risk but when we risk becoming invested in the other person, the rewards can be priceless.

Have you ever wondered why you're where you are — doing what you're doing, when you're doing it? God knows why. But unfortunately most of our encounters with others pass without our having a clue about the potential that existed if we had engaged the concept of maximizing the moment. As I reflect on missed moments, I must confess that due to fear of rejection, appearing pushy or any other reasonable excuse, I have sometimes avoided conversation that might have made an empty moment a pivotal moment for myself or for another. In contrast, we seize moments holding them tight to ourselves as if by doing so the moment lasts longer and becomes more fulfilling.

As Christians, we can be truly different from those around us if we will recognize whom we are and what we are here to do. This is best understood by observing our Master Teacher Jesus Christ. The strength that Jesus exhibited was not just because of His use of His earthly life. Consider His life from the time he was in the temple as a child questioning the religious leaders of the day. Notice how He developed interaction with others. The actions we have recorded for us within the Word display that He understood who He was and the reason for His existence.

"For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10 KJV)

We can know the same and embrace the moments He gives to us.

Is it possible for us to have as great an impact on our moments with others as did Jesus? We might be inclined to say no for fear of considering the responsibility that would place on us. But let us think for a moment about the words of Jesus as he was departing the earth:

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..." (Matt 28:19-20 KJV)

Did He say to go and preach? Or did He say something else? He knew that most of us would not be preachers by trade. He understood the reason for us to go — wherever that is — and do the one thing that can turn a moment into something of eternal consequence for one whom we may choose to tell about the saving blood of Jesus.

In a practical sense how can we make the rest of our lives powerful tools for God to use just as he used Jesus? We must look past who we think we are because of education, occupation, family status, economic level, physical appearance, intelligence or any other earthy trait. God already knows all about that as well as all of those around us. We do not need to concentrate on the obvious. We must instead concentrate on who we are without all of the traits that might be used to describe us. Even to be described as a Christian is not sufficient. It is not who we are, but whose we are that makes the distinction.

What am I talking about? We all do a lot of good actions that reflect Christ in our life. This is true and no doubt a good exhibition of the fact that we are Christians. The unfortunate fact is that this can make us objects for scrutiny instead of people ready to seize the moment. Please notice that in Jesus' life He did not spend a great deal of time telling who He was, but rather spent a great deal of time doing what he needed to do.

"...Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business." (Luke 2:49 NKJV)

So what can we do to seize our future moments? Let me suggest the following. We must accept as fact that moments are passing and encounters may not be duplicated. If we accept the fact that people are lost if they are not in Christ, we should have a sense of urgency. We have to believe that God places us in the unique places we find ourselves. We may perhaps be the only messenger that others meet. Therefore we must be ready to discuss the message that we have been given to share.

The responsibility we have is to share. The responsibility the hearer has is to respond. There is no shame in our not leading someone to Christ, but we must develop a healthy degree of guilt if we feel no need to share that which we have been given to gain eternal life.

Saying that "I'm a Christian" is another in a list of characteristics that can describe who I am. Characteristics only have significance to others when the elements making up those characteristics become active tools to improve the moment. Saying that "I'm a doctor" is nothing without application of the skill of the training and education. In the same way Christians are powerful only when that which made them a Christian is put in an active form that can change others for eternity. The ability to use the Word of God gives us power to save those with whom we choose to make use of our moment with them.

Let's imagine for a moment this scenario. A baseball pitcher steps up to the pitchers mound with a football in his hand and is told to pitch to the batter. We would all laugh and say how ridiculous that would be. If however, he steps to the mound, baseball in hand, and pitches using all of his skill, training and effort, he is doing what he was there to do. And in order to stay proficient at that task, he continues to receive regular coaching and training.

Another scenario: You are in the operating room and a surgeon enters the room with a hard hat and a shovel and says; "Lets get started!" How ridiculous! We all know that he would enter the sterile room, have on gloves and a mask, and have the proper "tools" readily available to perform the delicate procedure he is expected to do. He would do what he is there to do. His training, like that of the baseball pitcher's, is never completed. He carefully reviews his work and reads or studies to keep his skills polished to the level expected of him.

One more thought to consider. Your house is on fire and the garbage truck arrives with several firemen and they come toward the house with garbage cans in hand. This is really a ridiculous thought. Even a child knows that they would arrive with a fire truck properly equipped with hoses and other fire-fighting equipment. They would come prepared to do what they were there to do. A fireman must pass physical and mental tests and continue to stay certified in order to continue in his profession.

It is just as essential for us, as Christians to be as equipped with knowledge and skill to handle the Word of God as it is for the pitcher, the surgeon and the firefighter to be knowledgeable and trained to perform the task they have been called upon to perform. A fireman who never uses a hose or extinguisher can not fight a fire. A surgeon who never uses surgical tools can not perform surgery. A pitcher who never touches a baseball cannot pitch for the game. A Christian who never studies the Word can not be  properly prepared for his/her task on earth.

As Christians, the "equipment" or "tools" that God has provided for us is the Bible. From within its pages we can gain all of the skill and training that is necessary for us to perform the task of bringing others to Christ. It is the tool that contains all of the knowledge that we will ever need to maximize the moments that God gives to each of us. Can we expect to be as effective a Christian as we would want to be in sharing the Gospel if we have no desire to use the proper equipment God has given to us for that purpose?

His Word is the "source document" that we have to instruct us, as well as those we meet as to the way we are to become a Christian. It is the "handbook" or "instruction manuel" that tells us how to best use the moments that God gives to us. In many professions there is consistent and ongoing instruction required to provide specific knowledge to continue practicing that profession. A common term in the secular world used for that training is "continuing education." In a similar way, Christians must continue to study and train to remain proficient in doing what Christians are called to do. Each of us must constantly be on the lookout for moments that God may lay before us that present the potential to save another from eternal damnation. The impact of Jesus' death on the cross made salvation possible for us! We can have that same impact on others by maximizing moments that God places before us. Share the way of salvation

"Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified." (I Corinthians 9:26-27 NASB)

May we all strive to be prepared soul seekers for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and "...be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh (us) a reason of the hope that is in (us)..." (I Peter 3:15 KJV)

"Diligence" is a privately funded publication of:
Dennis and Sherri Owens — Cincinnati, Ohio