“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
There is a story out there that always makes me laugh. I will tell it here to make a point, and please know that I don’t mean to offend anyone.
A new Sunday School Teacher walked into a classroom of older adults. Filled with enthusiasm and a love for God’s Word, the 30-something man begins to read from His Bible. Just a couple of sentences into his reading, a classroom participant stops him and says,
“Son, what is it that you are reading?”
“Well, sir,” he replied, “I am reading from the Book of Isaiah.”
“That doesn’t sound like my Bible.” the man returned.
“I am reading from the New International Version. It might be different from yours.”
“Well, I don’t know about where you come from, but around here we only read the Lord’s Bible – The King James.”
“I understand that sir. But I prefer the NIV. It is much easier to read and understand.”
“Well, we may not be able to always understand the King James, but if it was good enough for Jesus – then it’s good enough for me!”
I always laugh at that story because the offended man obviously has no clue about God’s intent for His word. I sincerely hope none of you have been offended by my use of this story. But it does point out the silliness of our ways in the church sometimes.
I was reading the Bible with my daughter tonight. She loves to right down her favorite scriptures of the day in a little notebook. I marveled at her Bible. It is purple with flowers on it. It has sidebars next to the scriptures adding some relevancy to the topic at hand by comparing them to situations that she, as a 9-year old, would be familiar with. It has discussion questions about her life, and how she thinks God’s word fits into her daily activities. It is absolutely and wonderfully accessible to her. And she looks forward to reading it each night and writing down those scriptures so that she can keep them close at hand. Did I mention it is an NIV??
As we sat there reading, I recounted this story in my mind. And it makes me wonder. “What would the old man think of this glittery, flower-covered NIV that talks about things like soccer practice and manicures?”
I am thankful that God doesn’t allow His word or His work to be limited by our smallness. I am glad that He doesn’t allow our prejudice or fears to dictate the spreading of the gospel message. How many times would someone be left in need because I want my church, my Bible, my music, my JESUS, to remain solely within my comfort zone?
I am ashamed to say that, in many cases, my comfort is the only thing that matters when it comes to kingdom matters. And I hate change. Much like the old man, I fear that I show my ignorance by being obstinate about things that would make the way so much smoother for those that don’t know Christ.
My friends, the facts are this. God loves:
- all kinds of worship
- all kinds of music
- all kinds of delivery methods
- and all kinds of people – regardless of what they look like, how they worship, or where they gather.
I am thankful that God is moving on in this world and continuing to do new things to reach those that don’t know Him yet. I pray that He will continue to work in my heart, that I may, as Paul, “become all things to all people.” So that I don’t allow any personal choices to become a barrier to my witness. Because how wonderful it is to see the light of our Savior in someone’s eyes for the first time – whether it be a leather-clad biker on a Harley; a young rapper from the inner city, or a little girl who sees herself as God’s princess.
The fact is: He is reaching for us all.