Friday, August 24, 2007

The Most Important Question

It was one of those discussions. Sam, my co-worker at McDonald's in 1985, was talking to me about Christianity. He talked to me about his experiences. And I was half-way listening. I was a little embarrassed because I really was an agnostic. I also believed that religion was a private matter.

I was an agnostic because I didn't have enough faith and arrogance to be an atheist. But I also wasn't convinced that any particular religion answered many questions either.

He asked me if I was a Christian. I said an obligatory, "yes." But I knew that I really wasn't a believer. I was more of a social believer. I said "yes" as a social kindness. I wanted him not to try to evangelize me. He said he was glad that he could share his joy in our shared faith. (If only he knew.) He talked about his faith like it was the most precious thing he came across. I couldn't relate.

After that summer had passed, I had moved into a small apartment with my buddy, and I had graduated from college. I had to come to terms with the rest of my life. I've talked about this pivotal moment before. But it was that one question that began the journey, sustains me during difficult times, and is the question I use with those who don't believe that Jesus is who he said he is.

This question led me to become a believer. Believe me, it wasn't because I found that God was good. It wasn't because I found that Christians were really loving. It wasn't because it made me feel good. It wasn't because it made my life better. It was the possibility that the coming of Jesus as the Son of God could be true.

The question that changed my perspective and started me on my journey to find the answer was, "What if it's true? What if this stuff I hear about Jesus is true?" The next question is the natural consideration: "If I find that this is true, then what?" The only other question I had to consider—but only briefly, since the answer was obvious—was, "Is it worth my effort finding out?"

As long as I wasn't open to the possibility, I couldn't be convinced. But, logically, that would be foolish; to not believe something because I didn't want to, rather than because it isn't true. I'd better find out for myself.

Is it worth it? The answer is, "yes."

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Discipleship and Corn


What does a typical farmer need to do to raise a crop of corn?

First of all, he would need the right environment before considering doing anything. The climate, soil, and spacial conditions will determine what can or can not be grown in a particular area. These factors also determine what work needs to be done to prepare the land for planting.

Next, the farmer needs to have the right seed. Without kernels of corn, or some other seeds, he's not getting corn for sure.

Then, he needs to plant the seeds in the right season. Sweet corn, for instance, needs to be planted in warm soil (above 55°). Of course, in different locations the optimal time to plant will vary. However, he would also factor in the expected time for harvest, and for possible crop rotations (the planting of different crops on the same land for the control of certain insects and diseases, and soil health).

After this, he has to wait and put his trust in God, who controls the weather. Perhaps he would labor to keep the growing plants healthy, by cultivating them with water and fertilizer. He also may need to fight weeds and insects that threaten these tender plants.

In due time, there should be a harvest of some sort. Not all seeds will germinate properly. But if he does a good job, many should be ready and healthy by harvest time, if God so sovereignly chooses.

This process also applies to disciple-making and nurturing. As the apostle Paul had stated,

"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."
(1 Corinthians 3:5-7)

Here's what we know: