February 20, 2008

It’s The Gospel Stupid (II)

Earlier this week, I shared some thoughts on Tony Payne's address at the Gospel Growth vs. Church Growth event. Today I want to look at the very next point he makes in that address and it is this:

Gospel growth as it happens in people's lives daily is long term and it's slow. The Christian life someone has said is like solar power in that it doesn't happen overnight but it does happen. And that's what it is like. It happens slowly and incrementally and the character of growth is that we demonstrate endurance and patience. It's a process. In other words it takes place over time. It moves on.

Now I know that doesn't sound earth shattering and Tony said the same thing, but just in the last 24 hours God has shown me how I really don't believe this or feel comfortable with this.

I want change in people to happen now. Immediately! Without delay. If it takes any longer than it absolutely has to, you're either A) Not getting it or B) Stupid.

I'm such an impulsive, inpatient, non-enduring person. I've had mentors tell me for a long time that life is not a sprint, it's a marathon. I've never wanted to hear them. But I'm having to listen now. Because I realize that as I plant Eternity, I'm going into this for the long haul. I have to be able to look long term with people. I can't judge whether they've "got it" in just a few weeks or days of knowing them. I have to project out over a much longer timespan to ponder how much God can transform them in 5, 10, or 25 or 50 years.

And what's even crazier is that I don't have to look any further than my own life to prove it. I may not be changing "rapidly" overnight not but I'm a much different man in so many respects at 30 than I was at 20. And I suspect if God should allow me to see 40, I could say the same thing 10 years from now.

But we are so short minded. We are so A.D.D. We don't want growth in people to take place over long periods of time. We want instant gratification. We want fast results. Unfortunately, the Gospel most of the time doesn't work that way.

And that is why I'm glad that the church plant will have the name that it does. ETERNITY. To always serve as a reminder that results may not be immediate. But given enough time, we see the sheer miracles the Gospel has caused.

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