Sheep and Goats (4)

horse

You’ve heard (and possibly said) “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  In regards to discipleship, that holds true.  I can raise my kids with godly values.  I can introduce them to the Gospel in creative ways.  But eventually they choose to accept or reject a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

I believe in something called Free Will.  I won’t bore you will all of the gory details of what that entails (although I’m always willing to talk theology).  Basically, though, free will means each individual is given grace from God to decide for himself/herself whether or not to receive God’s gift.  The other end of the “spectrum” would be Determinism – which entails God choosing to work in every detail – from who goes to heaven or hell to what color of shirt I’m wearing.  Again, that’s a very basic definition.  But it does provide justice to the doctrine.

What’s this have to do with discipleship?  In my mind, everything!

In ministry, it’s taken me much too long to learn I can’t “fix” anyone.  Because we live in a broken world, there will always be struggles, suffering, and pain.  I can’t do much of anything about those things – EXCEPT point people to the One who can.  The Apostle Paul writes a letter to the Church in Rome that describes Adam’s failures and Jesus’ victory.  Take time to go read Romans 5.  Go ahead!  Do it now.

Back now?  So you understand what Paul is saying?  You and I can’t offer anything to those around us, with the exception of what’s already been done for us by Christ.  Then it’s up to them.  Responses might be: 1) Total rejection – Jesus tells us to “dust your feet (and move on); 2) Measured interest – These are those who want to hear more.  I’m reminded of the times Paul preaches the Gospel over and over again; 3) and Acceptance – Read Acts 2 and Peter’s message at Pentecost.  The response was, “Brothers, what must we do?”  Of course, we all want those we share with (especially those we deeply love) to accept that personal relationship.  But there are times they choose not to do so.  I must simply continue to pray for God’s grace and an open heart.

I want to finish the post today with a few texts from Scripture.  Of course, it says it much better than I.  Both of these are from the English Standard Version.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. Joshua 24:15

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.  1 Peter 3:9

So keep leading the “horses.”  Perhaps one day, they will drink.

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