I had a remarkable conversation with a growing Christian recently. It went like this:
The man said to me, “Pastor, you’re really starting to bug me!”
“Really? Why?” I replied, wondering where this was headed.
“Because you’re not telling me what to do. You’re telling me to love God, listen to Him, and obey Him.”
“Why does that bug you?” I asked.
“Because if you were telling me what to do, I could argue with you. God is telling me what to do—and when God tells me, I can’t argue with Him.”
We both smiled. (This was all coming from an individual who has grown exponentially in recent weeks, and it’s marvelous to see God’s grace at work in his life!)
I love God’s way of generating real life change. Love unconditionally, preach and teach God’s Word, and let the Holy Spirit do what we can’t. God’s work flows from the inside out.
As leaders, we can try to quickly manipulate people into our “definition of godliness”—to manufacture exterior appearances of godliness. But externals don’t change the heart. The other option is that we can lead people to love God, listen to Him, and obey Him. In this model, His grace does the work from within. It’s the difference between outward conformity and inward transformation.
If those we lead merely conform to externals to please or be accepted by others, they will eventually resent this path and the people that led them there. If they are transformed by grace in a loving relationship with Jesus and others, they will enjoy genuine Christianity in community.
Nothing is more powerful in real life-transformation than the amazing grace and unconditional love of Almighty God. And nothing allows that grace to flow more freely than an environment of unconditional love and acceptance with fellow believers in a local church.
God is far better at producing genuine conviction than we are at manufacturing it!
Let God be God to His people. Let His Holy Spirit work in their lives. Be as patient as God is in seeing His grace work toward transformation.
Remember that statement, “…if you were telling me what to do, I could argue with you. God is telling me what to do—and when God tells me, I can’t argue with Him.”
That’s a pretty powerful concept…