Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Passion for the Lost

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

During my time at presbytery I had the opportunity to hear reports from the various churches in our region – hearing of God’s faithfulness, of challenging trials, and of remarkable deliverances. I promised that I would share some of these things with you and so permit me this morning to share one of the stories I heard – a story that both encouraged and challenged me.

We learn from our passage today that the reason God delays the coming of the Day of the Lord is to secure the salvation of all His people. He is not slack concerning His promise but is patient toward us, not will that any should perish. The Lord is determined to rescue his people. Through the preaching of the Word, the witness of believers to Christ, and the work of the Spirit, He is in the process of bringing men, women, and children into His kingdom – and He will not fail to save any of His people.

This was brought home to me through one of the stories shared at presbytery. A member of this congregation, a brother by the name of Dale, has worked for about 20 years as a postal carrier. He has endeavored to do his job faithfully and well, self-consciously endeavoring to bear witness to Jesus through his labor. For many of those years, Dale first worked alongside and later worked under his current supervisor. They have not always seen eye to eye.

About a month ago Dale’s supervisor had a dream. He was at work and it was a rotten day. Everything seemed to be going wrong. The employees were complaining, he was frustrated, the air was tense – except for Dale. Dale was sorting his mail, singing and whistling, doing his work with joy. The mail carriers went out to deliver and the day continued going poorly. Some mail didn’t get delivered; as carriers returned they were asked to carry this new mail out. And you can imagine the response: anger, frustration, railing on the supervisor – from everyone except Dale. He went and did his work with a smile.

Then, in his dream, the supervisor finally got to go home bringing to an end a long, miserable day at work. But wouldn’t you know it, his troubles weren’t over. When he got home soon he and his wife were arguing and fighting – over what, the dream didn’t make clear. But in the midst of their arguing, they heard a knock on the door. Dale’s supervisor went to the door, opened it, and was surprised to see Dale on his doorstep. “Can I help you?” he asked. And the dream ended.

The next day Dale’s supervisor related his dream to the office before Dale arrived and, when Dale arrived, called him into his office. “We need to talk,” he said. And so began a number of conversations between Dale and his supervisor over the Gospel – the next Sunday Dale’s supervisor showed up at church with his wife – though neither of them had darkened the doorway of a church since their childhood; within the next week Dale’s supervisor professed faith in Christ; and in the last several weeks he has continued to grow in the Lord.

As I said I found myself both encouraged and challenged by the story: encouraged because the story reveals that we serve the Living God, a God who moves and acts in the lives of men and women and children to draw them to Himself and give them life. He is not willing that any of His people perish.

But I also found myself challenged: is my life, my conversation, my demeanor – so let me ask you: is your life, your conversation, your demeanor – something that God can put to use in a dream to draw others to Him? Or have you been a poor witness, more the stuff of nightmares? God’s design is to reveal Himself to all the nations of the earth, to cause every knee to acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus. And the way he intends to do this is through our witness – so how are we doing? Are we bearing faithful witness to our Lord Jesus?

Reminded of this call and no doubt convicted that we have fallen short of our calling, let us kneel and confess our sins to the Lord.