I look at God’s word and think, “Man, this is great! These are the words of life.”
When I preach God’s word, I fully expect everyone else to see how great His word is too. But usually people just ignore it, shuffle out the door, and go right back to the idiocy they were dong before.
I sit back and observe the lives around me, I see the beauty of God’s word, I see that the wrecked lives are not hearing God’s word. How can they not want more of this beautiful, life-giving word?
My only conclusion is: it must be me. I must be screwing it up. I must preach really badly. Maybe my life, my testimony, maybe I don’t demonstrate it enough.
I reflect on how I act and what I’ve done in front of these people who continually don’t hear God’s word, I can think of things I did in front of them that weren’t right. I can see my blame. And since I know God’s word is so perfect and beautiful, it can’t be His fault. It’s got to be me.
When people reject God’s word, it must be my fault. I’m to blame. It’s all me.
I feel this way quite often. There is some truth. I can’t deny I have a part in all this.
At the same time, over my years of being a pastor, I’ve also noticed that people actually do understand God’s word, and they can see its effects in my life and others. It’s not that I’m messing it up or getting in the way, it’s that they sincerely don’t want to mess with it.
They’d rather just keep doing their thing. It’s too hard to break old habits. Many are stuck in family and church traditions, if they changed on that, stuff is going to hit fans and whatnot. It’s all gonna be a mess. So they just shove it off and carry on. Better to not make waves.
In many cases people would have to backtrack on so much, their reputations would take a hit. They’d practically have to start over. That’s a lot of work. People are busy, there’s no time for existential crises. There’s no time for pouring a new foundation and building a new life. The whole task seems too daunting. Maybe next week.
People are creatures of habit and habits are hard to break and replace. Following God’s word seems nice, but man is it a lot of work. Everything changes. Old things pass away, behold, all things become new. That’s work. That’s embarrassing.
They hear it, they see it in action (hopefully in me), they want it, they really do. It’s like the hearers in the parable of the sower, they all heard the word and rejoiced, but the long haul, when the proverbial rubber meets the road, it gets tough. Too hot. Too many hungry birds. Too many distractions choking out life.
So they reject the word. They still play church; they still make an appearance, for a while anyway. But no, they’re not going to honestly mess with it.
So then their pastor weeps and wonders “how am I messing this up? How come I can’t get them to see this?”
The pain is real; you’re supposed to feel it. This is what it’s like to know Christ, the power of His resurrection, the fellowship of His sufferings, and be made conformable to His death. It kills. Literally, it kills ya.
All things work to conform us to the image of His dear Son. Feeling this pain, watching people reject God, it’s all part of the process that conforms you to Christ, gets you right with God, and inspires you to press toward the mark.
Do what you can, pray, serve, teach the word in season and out. But there are no guarantees, and for the most part, your heart is going to get broken over and over again. But all this grows you into Christ where there is peace and hope.
It’s tough, do your part, God gives the increase. Find a way to deal with this in a healthy way that leads to growth in Christ. Avoid the “I have nothing to do with it” consolation because that’s not true. Do all you can, as Paul said, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed.” You’re part of the struggle and this struggle works patience, experience and hope. There’s nothing better to spend your time doing. Fight the fight.