Recently, I had someone (I’ll call him John) visit with me about someone (let’s call this person Bob).  John wanted to “get (Bob) back into the Church.”  It seems that Bob had a horrible experience with a church and was using that as an excuse not to attend anywhere.  John was convinced of the necessity of community and attempted to communicate his conviction to Bob.  I appreciated the visit and knowing John was concerned for his new friend.

What struck me was what John said.  “Pastor, I have this friend who I’m hanging out with.  He’s kind of like my project.  Would you be willing to visit with him and alleviate any concerns he might have about the Church?”  What infuriated me about what John said was how he described Bob.  A project?  Really?  So if we’re to make disciples, does that mean we perceive them as projects?

The Webster’s defines project as “something that is planned or devised.” It almost sounds sneaky, right?  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m about making disciples.  I’ll be upfront about that!  But my concern is two-fold: 1) Did Jesus minister considering those around Him as projects?; and 2) What makes me think I can complete any “project” when it comes to discipleship?  After all, doesn’t God do the changing?

As I read about the public ministry of Jesus, it’s clear that He had goals in mind – first and foremost to love.  Jesus loved by speaking truth.  He spoke about man’s brokeness, God’s offer for redemption, and what He (Jesus) must do to restore all things.  After the crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus gave His disciples a task to do what He did.  But I never read about considering those ministered to as projects.  I never hear anything other than compassion, mercy, and grace.  If we’re to be about His business, maybe we should consider those around us more than just projects.

Secondly, when I think of projects that I have done, I have a sense of pride.  Accomplishments feel good.  And I celebrate the project not because of it, but because of me.  When it comes to people (side note: created in the image of God) and making disciples, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around considering them another project.  In fact, I think the Church has been all too often guilty of doing just that.  We get people to come to church, be baptized, etc. and then we’re on to something/someone else.  Project complete!  And the person doesn’t know up from down, left from right, etc.  It’s not their fault they go back to what they know.  After all, they were treated as a project.

I think it’s important to remember God does the changing in people.  Sure, He wants me to be involved.  But ultimately, the success belongs to God.  The only thing I have to celebrate is a person meeting Jesus.

You might think I’m making more of this than I should.  Maybe I am.  But I chose the word “infuriate” because that described what I feel.  If we treat people as projects, we have a long way to go.  Jesus didn’t die for projects.  He died for you and I!


One Response to “Overreacting?”

  1. It is unfortunate that so often, we desire our identity in Christ to be found in our “works” – in our projects. I think it’s because that is all we dare to see with our senses. We want to see with our humanity and not with our soul because we desire to hear confirmation that we are indeed doing something as the hands and feet of Jesus and often we want that confirmation right now so that we know to keep on “laboring” – And maybe that’s a very small part of it – and maybe it’s what we do at the beginning when we first believe.. I don’t know. But whatever the case, hopefully this is not where we stay.

    Thanks for sharing; caused me to evaluate my walk and why I do what I do.

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