Those of us who seek to follow Jesus tend to take seriously His command to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15). Sometimes, however, the thought of actually doing that makes our palms sweat and our tongues stick to the roofs of our mouths. That discomfort may come from the fact that we take on a bit more responsibility than God intended.
The apostle Paul addressed that over developed sense of responsibility when he wrote to the Corinthian Christians, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6,7).
Our job is to plant and water seeds. God’s job is to make things grow. Paul emphasized the importance of that when he pointed out, “What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task” (1 Corinthians 3:5).
That doesn’t mean we don’t care about the outcome. Paul is a perfect example of that as well. When he was offering up a defense of his faith to King Agrippa, the king asked him, “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 to God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:28,29).
Paul cared intensely about the outcome of sharing his faith. But he knew the outcome wasn’t his responsibility. Paul was ready, willing, and able to talk about his relationship with Jesus. At the same time he understood that God was in control. God makes things grow.
Understanding that lifts a big burden off our shoulders. But we still have the privilege and responsibility of planting and watering those seeds. Sharing the Good News of the Gospel has always been something The Navigators have emphasized. And while we’ve developed tools and resources to help disciples of Jesus do that (some of which you’ll find within this issue) what’s really important is living a transformed life that begs the question, “What makes you different?” coupled with the willingness and ability to give an answer for the hope that is within us.
As you examine the theme of evangelism in this issue, our hope and prayer is that the thoughts shared here, the real-life examples of people telling their spiritual stories, and the resources you find, will encourage you to plant and water seeds by sharing your story about your journey with Jesus. And as you do, may you have the joy of seeing—whether in a short time or a long time—God make those seeds grow.