Fruit Bearer, Not Orchard Builder
- Monday, December 15, 2003
One of my joys in pastoring single adults is learning second-hand how well they manage their asset of flexibility. I love to hear, "Did you know that so and so..." followed by a testimony, for example, of how some single brothers spent all morning shoveling snow from the walkways and driveways of single sisters in the church. Or how a group of single women have opened their home to anyone in the church who needs a place to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.
These are just a couple of the ways single men and women in our church have learned to creatively manage the assets of their singleness for real impact.
Nothing reaches people like the aroma of the presence of God in our lives. I used to live in a house with many international students. Most of us were Christians, but we often had people living with us who were totally ignorant of Christianity. Keiko, a young Japanese woman, was among them. Keiko had never heard of Christ. She was in the United States alone, and knew no one but the folks in our house. She understood very little English and rarely had any meaningful conversation with the rest of us in the house.
Keiko thought all Americans were Christians. That was not good, because her experience with Americans was anything but Christian. "Christians" who had promised to house her if she came to the States never followed through. She had taken a job working for a "Christian," only to be harassed and eventually let go without pay. To top it all off, a woman who cleaned our house and claimed to be a Christian robbed her of the little money she had left. If anyone had reason to reject Christianity, it was Keiko.
Imagine my shock when she came up to me one day and announced in second-language English, "I have asked Jesus into my heart." I was blown away. "You can't," I thought, "I haven't told you how!" There was no earthly reason why she should have come to Christ. The only witness she had experienced taught her the opposite of what Christianity was about. I knew from her blank expressions during our house Bible studies that she hadn't gotten any usable information from us. Yet here she stood, clearly a changed woman. My desire to hear her story was not so much to rejoice with her as it was to figure out the mystery.
"Many people tell me they are Christian, they want to tell me about Jesus," she whispered through tears. "But here I meet Jesus, in you and your friends. I want people to meet him in me."
The Scriptures tell us that we are letters from Christ, written with the Spirit of the Living God on the tablets of our hearts (2Co 3:3-4). What a wonderful, encouraging picture! We don't simply deliver the message, somehow the message is printed in us for others to read. Paul describes us as the "aroma of Christ" (2Co 2:15) and as "jars of clay" (2Co 4:7) carrying the treasure of Christ.
How many times I get discouraged at my lack of motivation to serve, at my flirtatious friendship with the world, at the reality that my witness is more often bland than bold. Yet daily I am reminded that it is God at work in me and through me that matters. He is the vine, I am the branch. My job is to bear fruit, not to start my own little orchard.
Does this mean I just "let go and let God?" How could I? If God wants to work through me, I want to do all I can to cooperate with the process. Do I need to root out some worldly weeds? Get me a backhoe and I'll dig up the whole field. Do I need to develop my tools? Teach me how. But mostly I want to draw close to my Jesus, to be more like him, to let his light be my light. I want the aroma of the smoke from God's fiery presence to envelop me. I want to smell like Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon once said, "He lives most and lives best who is the means of imparting spiritual life to others." We are the means, Jesus is the life. Let your single life be one rich in impact-a full life poured out in Christ, by Christ, and for Christ.
The Rich Single Life by Andrew Farmer: "The truths contained in The Rich Single Life could revolutionize your understanding of singleness. Andrew Farmer skillfully shows single Christian men and women what a rich and valuable opportunity they have. Just as importantly, he explains how to take full advantage of that opportunity. This book will help you live the single life in all the fullness of God." -Joshua Harris, author and pastor. Available from the Sovereign Grace Store.
Making the Excellent Investment by Andy Farmer: Do you want to read more? Here's an article adapted from The Rich Single Life. As Andy writes, the rich single life is one of investment and return. It requires active wisdom and wise activity to maintain and develop. But as Jesus promises in numerous parables, those who make the right investment will do much more than merely survive. If we plant well, we will harvest. If we manage well, we will be rewarded. If we invest well, we will prosper.
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