Do you ever feel like you’re all alone pushing against the tsunami of a culture that is traveling a million miles per hour toward destruction? I feel that at times. I’m reminded of that video from the song from Switchfoot called “I Dare You to Move” in which the streets are filled with people sprinting in one direction while one person tries to run against that current. Sometimes I get very frustrated trying to reach people for Christ and share the Gospel. There are definitely times when it seems nobody is listening or, worse still, that nobody even cares.
I’m reminded of what Paul said to the church at Corinth in chapter 3 of his first letter. The context here is a bit different, but the point he’s making is very applicable and helpful to the scenario I’ve mentioned above. Listen to what he says here:
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
This is the answer to my frustrations. Who are we as believers who share the Gospel and make disciples? We are merely servants of God. God is the one working in the hearts of people in His perfect timing. What do we do? By God’s grace, we must plow up that hardened ground- the hard-hearted person who refuses to hear the Gospel or even acknowledge God. Sometimes they are listening more than you know. Sometimes a stinging truth sparks an angry response. Your intent is not to offend, but truth often offends. Sometimes the one who protests most is truly wrestling with it even while they appear to be firmly against the message. What else do we do? We plant the seeds. We share the Gospel with more than just actions, but also with spoken word. And we may not see the result. What comes next in the process? Sometimes we get to take part in seeing that seed take root and life begins. Sometimes we get to see the harvest. Often that harvest has come because of the labor of others who never got to see the fruit of their efforts.
Now, Paul switches metaphors on us and speaks of a building. He is emphasizing that it is very important to be mindful of how we build on the foundation which has been laid, which is Christ. This is what he was dealing with in Corinth. Divisions like the ones in this church arise when people begin to make new believers their own disciples rather than disciples of Jesus Christ or when believers take their eyes off of Christ and put them on a man. So, we must be careful how we build and be certain that we are always pointing people to Christ.
But here is the point that I want to emphasize my friends. There are times when we don’t see results like we hope to see. I think of Isaiah and Jeremiah, who were called by God to speak to the children of Israel. As He told them to speak, He also told them that their messages would not be heeded. I can’t imagine the frustration. God often gives me a glimmer of hope, even though it’s not as much as I want to see. Still, I do see God working and that He is still calling a people to Himself.
I just want to encourage you, dear Christian laborer, that your efforts are not in vain. Even in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, there was a remnant who heard the message and had faith. Even in the days of persecution and torture, which still go on to this day in the lives of believers throughout the world, the Gospel will not be thwarted. It will go to the ends of the earth and there will be people from every nation, tribe, and tongue standing before the throne of God one day. So, keep fighting the good fight my friends. Keep plowing the hardened soil. Keep planting the seed. Keep watering the seed. Keep harvesting. Keep building with materials that will last. God is building His Kingdom and we get to be a part. All glory to God!