Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Reason to rejoice

Just a day after returning from the States and having spent three weeks out of country, mentally off track and tired from jet lag, I got a refreshing "welcome back" gift on Sunday: our friend "Sadie" came to trust the Lord and become a child of God! We felt it was only going to be a matter of time, given her sincere, prayerful interest in knowing God in Jesus since we met her a few months ago.

While praying during a native worship service, she said she saw a vision of Christ, "magnificent" in light, standing within her house. Someone read to her from Revelation 1:13-16, and Sadie exclaimed, "That's what he was like!" Then she was read Revelation 3:20, where Jesus promises, "Look! Here I stand at the door and knock. If you hear me calling and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal as friends" (NLT). She likewise saw him in her house and wanted to put off his saving fellowship no longer; there in the church she prayed and received Christ. With hugs and kisses, the small congregation welcomed her into her new family. "Today starts a new life for me."

Later that sunny afternoon I met up with her, some other American friends, and two others my age who have become believers over the past year, "Hal" and "Rose," to drink tea and enjoy each other's company. It was so refreshing to sit there and talk, rejoicing over their faith in Christ--itself a gift from God--and know that the Holy Spirit is indeed active here--yes, even in a Muslim nation!--in bringing people to know the Lord.

* * *

The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." (Luke 10:17-20)

For as much joy as I have shared over Sadie's entering into Jesus' reconciliation to her Father, God reminds me to rejoice more greatly still in my own rescue and reconcilation. Wait a second--isn't that sort of selfish, the very sort of it's-all-about-me attitude God despises? Well, no, not exactly.

After wrestling with this passage for a while, I came to this understanding: God calls us to focus first of all on our own redemption above that of others in order to keep us from thinking that we are the makers and shapers of salvation, rather than the Holy Spirit. These seventy(-two) disciples of Jesus were going and doing great things, seeing all sorts of ministerial miracles happen in the power that Christ had given them in his name. Could they have become tempted to see these salvation-events as something they brought about and controlled? Perhaps. But when we acknowledge first of all that we wouldn't even be out there to tell the gospel to others if we first hadn't been saved, re-created, and filled with the Spirit of Christ who is active in our personal and community witness, we stay grounded in the fact that we're first and foremost recipients of and participants in God's salvation--not influential "movers and shakers."

So in all we may do to tell others the message of Jesus Christ, pray for God's work in others, and serve him in his kingdom, let's lift up grateful hearts to our Father, praising him that "He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him" and that "in love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will" (Eph. 1:4, 5).

1 comment:

halfmom said...

It was an exciting "welcome back gift". I got goose bumps reading it!

Grandpa? Job hunt? Lent?