Friday, December 4, 2009

ALMOST PERSUADED -- Devotional for December 3, from "Good Seeds"

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost you have persuaded me to become a Christian.” (Acts 26:28)

I read this quote by Shane Claiborne in my sister’s blog:

To all my non-believing, sort-of-believing, and used-to-be-believing friends: I feel like I should begin with a confession. I am sorry that so often the biggest obstacle to God has been Christians, Christians who have had so much to say with our mouths and so little to show with our lives. I am sorry that so often we have forgotten the Christ of our Christianity.

What Sue said next was just what I was thinking – maybe you, too…

I would hate that to be said of me: that my life was an obstacle to God. The more I think about me, however, the more I realize this can be the case. God doesn't want us over-meditating (or over-medicating!) on our shortcomings. We have them, He knows it – He died for them. Rather, we need to ask Him to fill our gaze with Himself and the cross. Christmas leads to the cross. The season is upon us. May others find Him through our lives and eyes upturned to Him alone. Oswald Chambers wrote, "I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives." Always going back to this "relationship with God" thing. I love that. Not rules, not rituals. We are loved, and drawn to God, by His cross. I need to get my focus right…and let Him take care of the ones who are ready to come into relationship with Him….(from the blog of Sue Donaldson)

To all this I would add...

Ghandi was heard to say that he had no problem with Christ – it was just Christians he couldn’t abide! But along with meditating on our shortcomings – and doing something about them – maybe we need to consider what else it might take to win those still lost ones to Jesus. When the apostle Paul heard these wistful words from King Agrippa, “Almost you have persuaded me to become a Christian,” was he driven to dark introspection to discern the flaw in his character or the inconsistency in his testimony that surely had blocked the way to the king’s conversion to Christ? There’s no mention of that in the record. Yes, we must clean up our act, but how quickly sincere spiritual self-medication turns into subtle self-absorption, and before long it’s all about us, when it should be all about the one who needs us, and THE ONE still willing to use us. What did Paul do when he heard Agrippa’s words? I think I know – and it’s what we should do: He grieved for a moment, but then he got down on his knees to pray for that crusty old soul. Blaming ourselves never got anyone into God’s kingdom; forgiving ourselves doesn’t do the trick either. Forgetting ourselves and concentrating on our Savior is the better way. Do you know anyone at the “almost stage”? Don’t give up on him. Rather just give him – and yourself – up to God!

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