Thursday, August 18, 2005

Shaking dirt and finding money

Help! How are we to respond to people we encounter that want nothing to do with Christ? Do we "shake the dust from our feet and leave"(Matt. 10:14)? Or do we keep searching and searching until the lost coin is found(Luke 15)? Do we write the person off as being "bad soil"(Matt 13), or do we look search for the lost sheep (Luke 15)?

Perhaps my problems lies in trying to identify too much with Jesus in the parable...I'm not the one searching for coins, he is...I'm the coin. I'm not the one sowing the ground with seed, he is...I'm the soil.

Nevertheless, I'm still stuck. When do we push and when do we pull away? How do we know when the time comes to shake the dust from our feet? Do I pursue the teenager who wants nothing to do with Christ and lessen my time with the hungry, committed students? Or do I pour into the students who are coming and "release" the students who could care less?

Any thoughts?


The Cubicle Reverend said...

Pray for wisdom in this matter. Personally I spent a lot of time with such a youth as you mention. To be honest I do not know the result of my work. I believe it is Colosians 3:16 (or something) that says that whatever we do in word or deed to do it in the name of Christ. Sometimes we need to go off to the wilderness to seek out the lost sheep. You will not always know the result of your work, but rest assured that when you do it for Christ your time is not wasted. Love that person irregardless. That will stick with them as a bug in their ear and may be the beginning of coming to God.


Jessica Vaughan Lower said...

Mandy, you are a fantastic woman. You're fabulous without qualification, don't get me wrong, but you are truly fantastic for loving people as much as you do. I think you ask wonderful questions and, even though we all ask these sort of questions and I know that all the answers differ depending on who we're talking to and dealing with, the ability to stick with a question in the way you do is a true gift.

If it's any encouragement to you, there were two big things that helped me see Christ when I didn't want to see Christ. 1) Christian people (like the pastor of my church who should be "too busy to care about folks like me" or too square to have my attention) loving me (truly) and going out of their way to love me not because I wasn't a Christian but because I was a person who was loved by God. 2) being allowed to "overhear" Christianity in progress (i.e. not being spoken down to, not having Christian conversations always directed at me, etc) I like the fact in both of these actions that people had faith in me and, by them having faith in me, I got to see how much God must have faith in me.

Who was it that said that we must always spread the gospel and sometimes we may use words? I think that's really true. Furthermore, I think you do that well. I don't think it's our job to leave people because they are rocky soil--shoot, I'm from CA...I know that Miracle Grow turns a desert into a lawn. God can do miracles to what we see has hopeless. I think we're required to remember that ultimately, it's God's call and God's hands that draw people into love. As long as we are doing our best to be Jesus for people, then we're doing the right thing. If it's time to give up, I believe that it'll settle in your soul as the right thing to do. (Though I don't think that that God calls us to give up all too often)

Finally, in Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller makes an interesting and, I believe, a true observation--that Christians discipline one another and those in their midst by withholding love. It shows itself in a variety of ways, a look, a comment, a refusal to acknowledge where a person is at if we think that where they are at "isn't right." I think the most important thing to remember is that God has the person you are speaking of at that place where that person is and, simultaneously, that God has you at this person's life at this time in their life for a reason.

That is all. Obviously I have no investment in this same question :-) I'll keep on praying with you on this too and, sometime soon, I'll actually call you and be a real friend. Love ya, Mandy!

Amanda said...

Whoa! Thanks so much for your comments, Jess (have you considered starting a blog?). It really helps me to put this in perspective when I imagine YOU as a high schooler not too interested in seeing Christ. Thanks for sharing your story...I needed that.

Where was it that you encountered that pastor? Were you reluctantly going to church? Did he meet with you outside of church walls? Just curious.

I miss you. Let's connect soon!


Dibs said...

There's an interesting tension we are forced to deal with when we must decide how to spend our time and who to spend it with. I believe there's alot of money to be found in the dirt, but we often miss it because we didn't want to hang around in the dust.

Basically there was one group of people that Jesus wasted little time with - the "religious ones." Good question: Am I more comfortable hanging with "religious people" or do I like to get a bit dirty like Jesus?

Jessica Vaughan Lower said...

Hey Mandy! We got your message a little too late about the truck--as in, we just got your message! You probably have the piano sorted out by now, but let us know if you haven't and we'll see if there's something we can work out.

As for the pastor that showed me Christ, he was and is the pastor of my home church. He is the person who encouraged me in pursuit of seminary and ordination--he's stuck with me for a long time. When I was younger, however, he didn't chase me with Jesus and a Bible. I was hesitantly attending the church, and only attending the church because I didn't like attending the youth group. He was just normal with me. He asked me questions and listened and remembered my answers. He gave me the impression that he would be open to talk with me. And so, when I was ready to talk, he was the person I went too. I have the feeling that, had I not come to Christ and had I not pursued the path that I have, he would just as much love me as a child of God. It's that love that is irresistable. That pastor trusts God, truly and honestly trusts God, with everyone that he meets. In those terms, I don't think he's worked much a day in his life.

You've got the knack for that, Mandy. I think you do anyway. I think that sometimes your desire to please God and love people is so strong that you think and think and think until you're all thought out and then you don't know what to do because you can't think of anything. Those intentions are the right intentions, Mandy. And I'm betting that it's just a matter of time until questions like this become a type of familiar hand with you. As much as you have faith in others, Mandy, I hope for you to have faith in yourself and in God to use you. Because God does use you in bold and obvious ways.

Amanda said...

Okay, Jess. Apparently both the phone number and the e-mail address I have for you are no good. Would you mind dropping me a line at with your new info (unless, of course, you're TRYING to get away from me).