Time or People - Some Kingdom Perspective
It's in Acts 26:28, 29.
"Then Agrippa said to Paul, 'Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?' Paul replied, 'Short time or long - I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains.'"
Paul, during his lengthy defense, has obviously struck a chord with Agrippa...who get's a little defensive when Paul challenges him about his knowledge of the Hebrew prophets. Agrippa's response is formed in the context of time. 'Do you think that in such a short time you can convince me? And Paul phrases his reply, not in the context of time, but in the context of people. He tells Agrippa...'the timing doesn't matter...what is most important is that you AND all of these people here listening today eventually follow Christ.' What was Paul saying? He was saying that everyone in the sound of his voice were on a journey and that his mission wasn't focused around the speed at which they embraced his message - rather his mission was focused on the people themselves...and the fact that eventually they would come to faith in Christ and become like him.
Too often I think, we can focus our mission of spreading the gospel in the context of time. You know - church growth projections that see us hitting a certain number of people in attendance by a certain date, or a certain number of conversion 'decisions' each Sunday. Instead of focusing on actual PEOPLE and their individual journeys toward faith and then discipleship in order to become more like Jesus.
Don't get me wrong..I'm a big fan of numbers and measuring results and setting goals. It is ONE of the ways we know how we're doing. But our focus needs to be people themselves. Not how quickly we can get them in the seats and then how quickly we can get them to say a conversion prayer or get them to an altar, but instead how effectively we can engage them in a conversation and begin a journey with them...no matter how long it may take...to the point where we can eventually see them embrace faith in Christ for themselves when they are ready and understand the full impact of what that means. After all - they're people, not just numbers.
God help us see people...and then help them find their way back to You!