Over the last couple of years God has placed certain people on my heart that aren’t convinced in their faith. When I say they were placed on my heart, I mean that I truly feel a great burden for them. So, I began asking God “what is it that I can say to them that will make a difference?”. I really prayed over this, and these people with great sincerity. I remember one person in particular that believes in God, but really didn’t think that church was for him because of his lifestyle. He felt that what he does on Saturday should prevent him from going to church on Sunday. How do you answer that?
I began to pray again, I don’t want to force anything on anyone that doesn’t want to accept it, that only pushes people further away. I knew God had placed him on my heart for a reason, so I prayed that He would guide my words and actions. The next conversation was me telling him that the things that are keeping him from church are the very reason God wants him there. His response was that would just make him a hypocrite. That the very reason that he does not like church or most Christians was because they act one way in the world and another in church. I did see his point.
Was what I was suggesting to him the very thing that keeps many from church? No. I truly believe that if you are sincerely seeking a relationship with God, that the Holy Spirit will convict you of those things and thus begins the sanctification process. So why had God placed him on my heart if he wasn’t seeking a relationship with God? The answer was God is seeking a relationship with him. This person is not a bad person at all, in fact he is a very kind and gentle spirit that I believe could lead many others to Christ! I began to wonder if he viewed me as hypocritical. That is really a tough question to ask of someone who you have been trying to witness to. Would he be honest if I asked him? How should I address this?
Again, I prayed about it. What is a hypocrite anyway? According to dictionary.com the origin of the word comes from the greek word hypokrits meaning a stage actor, or someone pretending to be something they are not. http://m.dictionary.com/d/?q=hypocrite&o=0&l=dir Are there people like that in church? Of course, and those are the very people who give Christianity a bad name. Was I pretending to be something that I am not?
So many people avoid the church because there are too many hypocrites there. I myself had been guilty of that in the past. Why would I want to go to church if that is the way Christians act? Why would I want to be like them? The answer, I don’t want to be like them. I go to church to learn to be more like Christ! I go to Church to hear the word of God. I don’t go to church because I am perfect. I go to church because I want to be perfected by sanctification.
So, what is sanctification? It means to be set apart, or to become holy. (Like Jesus) Sanctification can only happen with a real relationship with God. This is not something I or any other believer can achieve on our own. This can only happen in a relationship with God through his word and by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a life long process to become more like Christ. It can not come into full completion until Jesus returns to us or we return to Him. Jesus tells us this in John 17. Jesus prayed this over us!http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+17&version=NIV
Before I had ever heard the term sanctification, I knew this was happening to me. I knew that He was making changes inside of me that I could not have done on my own. The desires of my heart started changing, as well as the way I viewed things. Why should I expect those “hypocrites” that kept me from church to be something that they can never be on this earth? In reality most of those “hypocrites” are probably being sanctified too.
So, why go to church? We all have a function in the body of Christ. Where I may struggle, someone else probably has already come through that same struggle leading them to minister to me. I may be able to help someone else with the struggles that I have come through. This is why God placed my friend on my heart. I had struggled with the same thing, and because I knew that God is what changed me, I wanted the same thing for my friend! I would like to say that the words that I said to my friend made a very visible difference, but I can’t. What I can say is this. He has asked me to pray when he felt someone in his family needed prayer. He approached me one day to tell me that he had been thinking about some of the things we had talked about! I praise the Lord for that, because I know that is the Holy Spirit working on his heart!
I love 1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow!http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+3%3A6&version=NIV