“So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones.” In this way he reassured them, speaking kindly to them. (Genesis 50:21)
Biblical passages like this have soured people to the Bible and faith in God generally. The argument goes, “God promises to protect us, but bad things continue to happen, so either God is weak, God doesn’t care, God is a liar, or God doesn’t exist.” I wish I had a dollar for every time some cynical person threw that argument in my pastoral face. Sadly, I do not have the perfect, five second answer that changes the person’s heart and mind. Often, I just let them think they have won the argument and let them walk away proud of themselves.
When I care for someone who doesn’t believe in God, it hurts my soul. Yet, I am still hesitant to weigh in and try to persuade the person, of faith in God. Why do I find it so difficult? Because I believe it is not my job, even as a minister, to defend the existence of God with someone who doesn’t believe. That may sound an odd thing for a minister to say.
I believe changing one’s heart and mind is God’s job. Trying to defend God has actually driven a deeper wedge in most unbeliever’s hearts than not saying anything at all. Because we cannot prove the existence of God using our five senses, people of faith can never win the argument.
My job is to pray for them, love them, and show them respect and compassion, and let God sort out their faith issues. I should be available to talk with the person, and be willing to share my faith, even at the risk of being ridiculed, but not to make the persuasion my job. God is the only one who can persuade a person to put down their defenses and arguments and give faith a try. We can make an invitation, but God is the one to make the transformation.
I get frustrated with some of my evangelical peers who take credit for “bringing someone to Christ.” Few phrases burn my backside more than that one. The unintended arrogance! We are not that powerful. We can make the introduction, but God is the only one who can enter their heart and provide faith.
Today, pray for those in your life, and those you’ve never met, who are living without faith. Rather than praying that God will use you to “bring them to Christ,” pray that the Spirit of God will transform their life and give them faith. Who gives a darn how they develop their faith? It is self-serving when we try to inject ourselves into the process. We must trust God to “provide” faith. Our task is to humbly wait on God. That can be hard, if we love the person and want them to experience the divine joy of living in God’s light, but it is not in our control. You can say the most profound statements, but until the Holy Spirit moves in their midst, their soul will not be transformed. Just relax and trust God to bring them under God’s wing.