I have recently begun to think about the way we are always looking for “better” and “more effective” ways of reaching people. This is certainly commendable, but I wonder if it hasn’t caused us to miss out on one of the most important aspects of our walk. Certainly, we are to go and “make disciples” of all nations (Mt 28:19-20), but I wonder if sometimes the goal obscures the means.
As I have been thinking and praying about this, I have come to the conclusion that despite all the means we have at our disposal we lack one thing: faithfulness. Where are the people who will labor on, day after day, without seeing any results, simply because they were called to be where they are? If you don’t see any fruit, then you aren’t using the right methods, say the “experts”. You must have a completed church within three or ten or fifteen years, or else you’re a “failure”. But in Scripture, the One who does the work is the Holy Spirit. What are our responsibilities?
We are to love and serve one another (Jn 13:34-35; Rom 12:10ff; 13:8 and other ‘one another’ passages), pray continuously (Lk 18:1-8; 1Th 5:18), preach the Word (Mt 2:18-20; Mk 16:15; Rom 10:14-15; 2Ti 4:2), give (Mt 25:31-46; Lk 8:38; 19:11-27), and go (Mt 28:18-20; Mk 16:15; Ac 1:8). If we have done these faithfully, we have done our job. We are not called to convert anyone; we are not called to turn people into believers; we are not the agents of conviction. These are done by the Holy Spirit, and by Him alone (Jn 16:7-11). It always comes down to what St. Francis of Assisi so astutely commanded, “Always preach the Gospel, and when necessary use words.” If we are flailing about for results, I do not believe we are being faithful. If we are simply living our lives, faithfully applying what God has revealed in His Word, where God has called us, then we are doing our job, whether we see fruit from it or not.