Oftentimes we are so overwhelmed by the need around us that we inevitably fall into one of two categories. We either see so much need, yet in spite of our sincere intentions we feel paralyzed by our inability to solve the world's problems, and we do nothing. We may chalk it up to the sovereignty of God and somewhere in there, unknowingly rationalize that our individual efforts are seemingly insignificant. Or, on the other hand, we may spend our time and money throughout the year trying to purposefully initiate conversations with a broad spectrum of coworkers or friends with little or no noticeable impact. We get lost mingling in the crowd. We like to help people and causes. We desire to be used by God in a powerful way. And we most definitely desire to see the fruits of our labor.
If you tried to have purposeful conversations with 50 coworkers and 50 neighbors last year, but saw little come of it, there may be a third category for us to explore. What if instead of trying to casually impact everyone, we focused our efforts to radically impact a few? Many of us may take the same friend or coworker to lunch every 3 or 4 months and hope that he or she will notice our smile, our polite choice of words, and our casual mention of church, and then ask us the question we all dream of hearing, "Oh, you go to church? Could I come with you? You seem so happy, and it just dawned on me that it must be because of Jesus." That would make our day, wouldn't it? But that doesn't happen often because we either don't know how to, or choose not to, faithfully invest our time into a few people until they see the Life of Christ in us. Sometimes I stop exceptionally short of that realization.
Jesus demonstrated this idea of selecting a few in His ministry. It was deliberate. The crowds were there, of course, but He never wavered from His intentional plan to impart the values of His Kingdom into a few men that would later lead those same crowds. Robert Coleman puts it this way,
"Why did Jesus deliberately concentrate his life on comparatively so few people? Had he not come to save the world? ... Surely the Son of God could have adopted a more enticing program of mass recruitment. Is it not rather disappointing that one with all the powers of the universe at his command would live and die to save the world, yet in the end only have a few ragged disciples to show for his labors? The answer to this question focuses at once on the real purpose of his plan for evangelism. Jesus was not trying to impress the crowd, but to usher in a Kingdom. This meant that he needed people who could lead the multitudes."
John 15 tells us that the Father chose us and appointed us to bear fruit. Amazing. We belong to Him. How? He chose us, adopted us, and made us His own through the blood of Christ. When? After faithfully pursuing us all the way to that glorious moment when we realized that Jesus is God and Savior.
God pursued. God then adopted. And then God patiently walks with and sanctifies us. If we are intended to represent Him to the world, is that not how we should approach those within the world. With intentional, Holy Spirit inspired pursuit? With a heart willing to functionally and seasonally adopt another for God's glory and their everlasting joy? And with a desire to see their children grow up, mature, and multiply their life? Like any good father or mother, yes. Coleman again says,
"Here is where we must begin just like Jesus. It will be slow, tedious, painful, and probably unnoticed by people at first, but the end result will be glorious, even if we don't live to see it. We must decide where we want our lives and ministry to count - in the momentary applause of popular recognition or in the reproduction of our lives in a few chosen people who will carry on our work after we have gone. Really it is a question of which generation we are living for."
Last Sunday we played a video that Pastor John prepared for Sanctity of Life Sunday. At the end of the video, John asks us to consider who God may be calling us to "adopt" this year. He mentions the poor, the foreigner, a neighbor, a coworker, a community, a widow, or an orphan. Valuing life means that we absolutely value life in it's earliest stages. That same value and conviction must extend throughout the duration of life for all human life. God's image is seen within each and every human being. He made us and knows each of us by name. (Psalm 139) His desire is that we, as His adopted sons and daughters, would display the love He has graciously, freely, sacrificially given to us throughout all of world. (Romans 8&9, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5)
Who does our Father want to rescue through you with His intentional, patient, steadfast love? Who are the 2 or 3 people that God is burdening you to invest in? Are you willing to adjust the rhythms of your weekly schedule to faithfully befriend, serve, encourage and love them? Our few are waiting.