The God Who Saves
By Luke Midena, Canberra Labouring Community
I wonder, have you shared about Jesus with someone who seemed to recognise the good news for what it is, but never embraced the message?
I’ve often wondered where the process has broken down. Was it me – did I overlook a vital element of the gospel? Was it them – was their sincerity genuine? Was it God – couldn’t he have done a little more to get them across the line?
James is one of these guys in my life. We had read through John’s Gospel and Romans over his first few years at university fifteen years ago. He was intelligent, enthusiastic, and as far as I could tell, receptive to what he was reading.
So, I was shocked when he told me he just didn’t think it was true. ‘Luke, I honestly wish I had faith like you, but I just don’t. I can’t make myself believe what is unreasonable.’ It was jarring, because he’d seemed to know and understand the gospel. I remember thinking, ‘Well I don’t believe in your unbelief’.
We gradually lost touch, with just a visit or a phone call here and there, before he texted me last month.
You probably aren’t expecting this but I’m looking for some guidance. I’ve been thinking about God for the past few years and am now certain that he exists. Now my question is whether the Gospels are reliable accounts. Would you have some time to talk in the coming weeks?
Having invested so much time and prayer into James, it’s hard to express how happy this message made me. When we spoke, he declared: ‘The seeds you planted all those years ago are finally bearing fruit!’
He couldn’t get God out of his mind, and explained that he often felt conflicted by his sense of moral failure, which didn’t make sense without God.
Alongside speaking with me, James joined an introduction to Christianity course at a local church, where he recognised himself in the apostle Thomas’ commitment to reason.
Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe. (John 20:25)
The essence of faith suddenly became clear to James. God wants a relationship of trust, which rests not entirely on what he can explain or reason, but on the inscrutable one, who chose and loved him before the creation of the world.
Please pray that the God who has faithfully pursued James to this point, would faithfully adopt James into his family. Pray also that James would build a strong foundation in Christ and show the same patience with others that God has shown him.
I hope you can rejoice with me at God’s faithfulness over the last 15 years of James’ life. But I wonder, should we be so surprised? What is this compared to God’s faithless over the many thousands of years of human history?
8 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 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. (2 Peter 3:8-9)
In recent months we’ve noticed a few well-read atheists turning to God and have begun to wonder whether it could be a wider trend. Who are the ‘James’’ in your life? I would love to join with you in praying for them if you are willing to share!
Join with me in praying that God’s word that goes out from his mouth shall not return to him empty, but shall accomplish that which he purposed, and shall succeed in the thing for which he sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Thanks for praying for our prayer weekend last month. We had a wonderful time imitating the God-focused nature of biblical prayers. Pray that this training will have a lasting impact on the way those our worker’s ministry wrestle with God in prayer.
Last week I had a fantastic time speaking at a New Zealand Navs student conference about living well as a human. Pray the NZ students would know God’s goodness in creating us, walking with us, and inviting us to participate in his purposes in the world.
Finally, as the Nav workers group continues to read and reflect on Jesus’ parables over dinner each month, please pray that those who are encountering Jesus for the first time would have spiritual eyes and ears to understand and believe the gospel.
As always, thanks so much for your prayer and support.