A Nation of Fig Trees


And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
—Matthew 21:19

A conversation with my sister-in-law troubled me. It had to do with the old aphorism “Bloom where you’re planted.”

A couple weeks ago, I posted the following:

Overheard countless times in the last two months: “I am concerned about the poor performance of my investments and savings.

Not heard even one time in the last two decades:  “I am concerned about my poor performance in laying up treasure in heaven.

It all ties together, trust me.

I recently turned 46. To me, that’s an “other side of the mountain” age. I look at people just 10 years older and they’ve gone gray and have that “retired” look. Entropy overshoots no one.

When I take stock of my life, I’m deeply troubled. I’m simply not laying up treasure in heaven. Period. End of story.

I wish I could say that the problem is found only inside me. But it’s not. In many ways, I know that I surpass a lot of other Christians in treasure-laying-up. At least here in the States.

So my sister-in-law and I were talking about this issue and she unleashed the “Bloom where you’re planted” line. She said that God can’t fault us if we’re good employees providing for our families, Jesus cursing the fig treeraising up our kids in the knowledge of the Lord, and just being a good Christian when a good Christian is called for. Given the pressures most people face in life today, just doing those things has to count for something.

But does it?

The way I look at it, if you pull the average family man off the street and analyze his life, he’s probably doing most of those things. He may even be packing his family off to church once a week.

But I can’t see how any of that fulfills the upward call of Christ. For all I know, that man doesn’t know Jesus at all. What then distinguishes the average American Christian from his non-Christian neighbor? If “bloom where you’re planted” is the be all and end all of modern living, then isn’t Joe Pagan blooming, too?

A quick read of the ending of Matthew gives us a clue into Jesus’ standard of living:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
—Matthew 28:18-20

How does that jive with the list of prerequisite works found within the “bloom where you’re planted” ideal?

It doesn’t.

In the last 10 years, I’ve had one person try to witness to me. Her witness consisted of handing me and the rest of my group a tract. She did this for about 20 people, ran out of tracts, and then skedaddled, not saying a word.

I fear that encounter pretty much encapsulates what passes for making disciples today: quick, harmless, and no cost to the “discipler.”

But then again, how can we expect anything else? Everyone is too busy blooming where they are planted to give a hoot about evangelism or spending time making disciples.

The sad part, to me at least, is that I’m no better than anyone else. I’m too busy attempting to feed my family to have even two seconds for ministry.

Back when I had a little bit more time, I encouraged my church to consider a mentoring program for kids in the church who lacked dads. Today, they put out the sign-up sheet. I stood there with a tear in my eye, unable to sign my name on the sheet endorsing the very idea I suggested.

Something has got to give.

How can any of us expect to hear “Well done good and faithful servant” if the only people we serve are our families? Don’t the godless do the very same thing?

Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
—Mark 10:29-31

The way we Christians in America live, I expect to see the vast majority of us standing at the end of the celestial line, our heavenly garb tinged with a hint of soot and sulfur after the test of fire incinerated everything we worked for in our earthly lives. Maybe a minuscule fleck of gold remained. Maybe. Emphasis on minuscule.

And what is that speck? Our treasure in heaven.

To bloom where we are planted requires we actually bloom. But not simply for ourselves. The fig tree that Jesus cursed probably did bloom. It just didn’t produce any fruit. Yet what point is a fruit tree with no fruit?

What point is a Christian who has no time for obeying the command of Christ to go make disciples no matter the cost to us? What good is a Christian whose life revolves around the same daily routine as the non-Christian, save for squeezing in church on Sunday and some prayers and Bible reading during the week? Isn’t the barrenness just as obvious between the avowed follower and the lost?

Many of us believe the end is close at hand. If so, what explains the lack of work for the Kingdom? We’re all so worried the economy will take our jobs away, but what if being forced to watch all our earthly treasure signed over to some bank is the best thing for each of us? Maybe actually losing everything would reinforce the words we speak glibly about forsaking all for Jesus.

It’s a hard word, isn’t it?

45 thoughts on “A Nation of Fig Trees

  1. Onesimus

    I’ve recently been noting that a lot of what Jesus said describes a life of discipleship far greater than most of us achieve †“ in fact He described a life of discipleship far greater than most of us WANY to achieve. To live up to those words would mean a great deal of sacrifice in every area of our lives.
    We are far more satisfied being “Christians as defined by our culture(and compatible with our culture) to be disciples of Jesus.

    • Onesimus,

      When we talk about the cross, it boggles my mind that what we take away is that we should live like the advice given in old Dear Abby or Miss Manners columns. Don’t use bad words. Always be kind to people. The Golden Rule.

      But the cross says that my ENTIRE WAY OF LIFE has to die. MY ENTIRE WAY OF VIEWING THE WORLD is skewed and must be brought into line with the Gospel and the person of Jesus Christ. That should make me look so unlike my neighbor that the world notices the difference because it’s so stark.

  2. Glad to see someone else is hearing the same things. I’ve actually considered moving to an impoverished country just to get away from our lifestyle. And yeah, I think God is about to do us a huge favor by stripping us of our distractions. Like I just told a friend of mine the other night, I think the church needs to be ready to move in on the evangelistic front and explain to the lost why “all these things” are happening to our country. Our darkest day could become our greatest triumph, if we’re willing to focus on God’s agenda and not our material concerns.

    • Chris,

      I can’t avoid the reality that weeds “bloom where they are planted,” too. Are we weeds if we just maintain the status quo? I have got to think we are.

      The problem with wishing that change will come to our country is that most people are not ready for it. I’ve been saying for years on this blog that we have to get ready and even I’M not ready for it!

      I’m less convinced than ever that we as the Church in America will ride out this storm gracefully. I think too many Christians (who may actually only be Christians in name only but who will taint things for others) are going to be spending all their time looking for the life boats. We should have been preparing, but we were like the grasshopper in the Aesop fable.

  3. Peter P

    Oh AMEN brother!

    I am on the same page as you!

    I’m a chicken though. I’m not showing leadership in my home or in my church fellowship.

    I was just reading in 1 John 3:18 today “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” and it reminded me that I serve God with words but not with actions.

    I agree with the comment above from Chris, I think that the loss of prosperity will spur us into action. That should not be something we wait for though. We must act now.

    I need to stop talking about it and do it!

    • Peter,

      We did a few things wrong, this is why we have no leaders:

      1. We let the older generations die off without considering what they learned (and a lot of them committed an equally grievous error by not knowing that what they learned had to be passed on).

      2. We forgot what it meant to listen to the Holy Spirit, therefore we have not cultivated that heaven-tuned ear to know how to lead by listening to God. (See “My Hope & Prayer for 2008” as an example.)

      3. We decided that men’s applause if more thrilling than the narrow road that goes in a different direction than the world. In fact, we appropriated the world’s wisdom and then tried to Christianize it rather than reject it utterly, as we should have done.

      We must do these things. I only hope it is not too late to do them.

  4. David

    The examples Jesus gave that involved the cost of being a disciple speak, I think, the to concept of blooming where planted. Here were people who wanted to be with Jesus and to be His disciples, yet wanted to do so from the comforts of their own home or avocation. They wanted to bloom where they had planted themselves, yet Jesus said that no one who wasn’t willing to pull up roots (“puts their hand to the plow and looks back”) was “fit for service”.

    Hard words. After that he appointed 72 to go out into the surrounding villages.

    72, out of the 5000 he had fed just the week before.

    • David,

      If you are in the center of God’s will, then I think that “bloom where you are planted” makes total sense.

      But what if you are just living for yourself or for your family’s sense of security? And that’s the big question. We’ve become pansies in a pretty garden when we should be tough, old bristlecone pines clinging to a sheer rock face on a windblown mountainside. The pansy dies when the conditions turn bad. The bristlecone pine lives on and on.

      It’s one thing to bloom where you are planted and another thing altogether to wonder if where you are planted is the right place to be.

      • David

        Or to paraphrase Keith Green: If you don’t feel that you are called to go somewhere else, then you had better be sure you are called to be where you are.

    • jac9z

      Like those that were called to the marriage supper, we have to wait to check out the financial page or cnn msnbc or whatever because we have sold our future to the world even our church’s have put money in the market. We cannot serve mammon and the Lord at the same time. Are we willing to forsake this world and be the light and salt that we are called to be. It will not be easy thier is cost in discipleship. There is a shaking going on and I for one want to be salt that is shaken wherever I am. May God prepare our path and make our way straight and guide our steps in this precarious times we are already entering.

      Let your heart not be troubled dear brothers and sisters
      but trust in God,

  5. Don

    A timely word. I’ve been struggling with this same feeling myself for a little while now. The thoughts of “is this all there is?” or “there must be something more” keep pricking my spirit. Yet, I am struggling with what “it” is.

    This past Friday, I came across a review of the new book from Francis Chan called “Crazy Love”. After reading the sample chapter from the website for the book, http://www.crazylovebook.com/, I ran out lunchtime and picked up a copy. Man, did it speak to me. Later that day, I didn’t put it down until I finished it. It was exactly the perspective that I was looking for.

    A couple of quotes from the book that are relevant to this post:

    “I quickly found that the American church is a difficult place to fit in if you want to live out New Testament Christianity. The goals of American Christianity are often a nice marriage, children who don’t swear, and good church attendance. Taking the words of Christ literally and seriously is rarely considered.

    Think about that one for a minute.

    “As I see it, a lukewarm Christian is an oxymoron; there’s no such thing. To put it plainly, churchgoers who are ‘lukewarm’ are not Christians. We will not see them in heaven.”


    The book is by no means a bash against the church. Instead, it draws your focus should be – To God the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son to die for us. The God of the Universe did this. He cared so much for us that He did this. That’s just crazy if you put it in human perspective. If He did that, shouldn’t we show that same kind of “crazy love” to God in just awestruck reverence and worship? Shouldn’t we die to ourselves, find life in Christ and fully giving ourselves to Him?

    The book asks the question, “what are you doing in your life now that makes you life by faith?”.

    I’ve been wrestling all weekend with ideas of making that happen.

    With the times that we are in (and I believe the worst is yet to come), perhaps its time for us to become like the disciples an literally give up all to follow Christ.

    • Don,

      Chan’s a good guy. I think his heart and mine are in the same place. I subscribe to his podcast.

      But I think he may be wrong on the lukewarmness thing. If we confess with our lips, we are saved, the Bible says. I think the issue here is the one I touch on, reward. There is likely no reward for the lukewarm believer.

      Here’s what the Bible says (and you’ll note that I referenced this passage indirectly in my post):

      For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
      —1 Corinthians 3:11-15

      I have ALWAYS struggled with the implications of that passage. And while some say Maranatha, I am always checked in my spirit by the knowledge that almost everything I’ve done in my life will burn up, and what a staggeringly shameful reality that will prove to be.

      As for the question Chan asks, I am trusting God for our daily bread because illness has dramatically changed our family and our income. I could not be holding on by faith more than I already am in that regard. But the question remains, if I am hanging on by faith in the midst of a raging sea, does it not make more sense to get to the shore? In that case, what sense does “bloom where you are planted” make?

      • Don


        My brief comments on the book didn’t do it justice, especially the one about being a lukewarm Christian (in essence, in name only). His thinking is more in line with your thinking. In fact, I thought of you often as I read through it.

        The fact that you are holding on by faith shows that there is a cost that you are paying. I pray that your faith is continually strengthened through this and that Lord brings to shore.


    • jac9z

      Paul talks about the carnal mind verses the spiritual mind that instead of returning to foundational things that a babe in Christ feeds on, milk, we should be teaching and feeding on meat. So I think that many Christians are carnal not lost. It is time to grow up. church , Blow the trumpet in Zion Sound the Alarm. I tell you that we are on the verge of a change in America and if we don’t consider where we are and were we are going some saints will be decieved. Paul tells us to examine ourselves and I need to do this each day for “Today is the day of Salvation” not yesterday or tomorrow but this present moment.

      Bless you Saints, In the Name of our Lord Jesus Yehshua the Christ,

  6. Chad Adams


    I agree with your post, but yet I’m torn on what action to take. I recognize the problem you are pointing out and have pointed out before, but where’s the answer?

    Specifically, you say, “How can any of us expect to hear ‘Well done good and faithful servant’ if the only people we serve are our families? Don’t the godless do the very same thing?”

    Consider 1 Timothy 3:4-5. Speaking about the requirements of an overseer and/or Deacon, but applicable to all… “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”

    Given the culture we live in, how am I as a Christian husband and father supposed to adequately manage my family and still have time for ministry? I’m not saying that as a defense, I’m really seeking an answer. Because most of the time I just feel worn out. I feel guilty for not doing more and worn out by what I am doing.

    I think as Christians we should not live in fear of whether or not we’ll hear “Well done good and faithful servant”, but rather we should be able to live with confidence that we will hear those words. And yet I don’t have that confidence, and I’m not sure how to get it.


    • Peter P

      Chad, We are in the middle of what you might call an experiment into how to overcome the difficulties you are talking about.

      We have an apartment out the back of our house and my bother and sister in law live in it – and we share almost everything.

      We only have one washer and drier between us, one car between both families, we eat together almost every day, we have planted a church here in our house and so we do ministry together, the list goes on and on.

      I am not trying to promote the idea of communes but I am beginning to recognize that many of the things which we see as necessities for every family to own are, in fact, things which can be easily shared.

      3 families actually use our washer and drier and yet 90% of the time they sit unused – why would we need to buy more washers and driers between us to sit unused most of the time.

      We have a rice cooker which gets used once a week, if you think of 3 meals a day 7 days a week, that means there are 20 meals a week when it is not being used. We could easily share that rice cooker with a few of our neighbors without it ever affecting our own usage of it.

      These things together all bring down the cost of living meaning we don’t have to work to buy things that we can easily borrow from one of our neighbors, meaning we are less enslaved to our jobs.

      It also means that we are living as part of the church community and are involved enough in each others lives to be able to minister to each other while still being involved enough with our own families to raise god-fearing kids.

      We are not perfect though. God has just recently started telling us that we have been unfaithful – why? because we have not been using the time and resources he has given us to reach out to the community around us.

      Our little ‘experiment’ is working but we are still failing because we are not focused on the world around us, we are not ‘going into all the world’.

      I want to encourage you that you can find time for ministry, you just have to make it a part of your family’s routine. Break out of the mold, jump, God will catch you!

      • See, here’s some different thinking.

        The real different thinking would to live like this so you could actually work fewer hours so you could devote more time to ministry. I mean, Paul may have been a tentmaker, but he certainly didn’t do it 50 hours a week with an hour daily commute or more.

        • Peter P

          One of the biggest hindrances to communal living is a very simple phrase:

          “I want…”

          One thing that we are finding is that we have to learn to be satisfied. We serve the God who supplies all our needs. If we can get past living for selfish ambition and instead be content with having only what we need then we can really begin to store up treasure in heaven rather than just on earth.

          None of us work overtime (except where it is to serve our employers in a time of need). We’re still learning though to devote time to ministry not just devote all of this free time to self-serving leisure!

        • Chad Adams

          Thanks for the link Dan, it was a good read and one I haven’t read before on here.

          I have lots of thoughts about what Peter said and about the link you provided. I’m not sure I can formulate them in a coherent manner.

          A part of me is drawn to the idea, and a part of me is repulsed by it.

          I can’t quite get my thoughts together on this, and I’m still at work and need to be concentrating on that.


    • Chad,

      What makes this such an intractable problem is that our entire society is built on subtle lies that build up to form a system that is hard to escape from. The real problem is that Christian thinkers and leaders are not speaking to this.

      I’ve actually written about solutions in the past. You’ll have to read a few of them, especially those categorized as Work,

  7. Brian


    What a great post. Man. seriously. I’m just sitting here stunned.

    I have spent the past 10 years (yes, really) trying to figuring out what has happened to me and where I go after a three year experience with a “prophetic” (a la Toronto Blessing) house church.

    I left really wondering what all that was about. All the talking, praying and “prophecy” about all these great things God was going to do. Nothing happened though. I now believe we are that fig tree which withered. (I gave the prophecy of that group ending. I even gave a time frame and was off by a month).

    (Sidenote: Charismania makes it very easy for a believer to think they are being spiritual and serving when they are not. Its delusional or deceiving.)

    The process of disappointment caused me to become very analytical about my faith and christianity as a whole. Its how I found your blog btw. In that process, the culture of all talk and little to no action has repulsed me. I now find myself not wanting to talk about christianity with my believing friends. If you can’t do, don’t talk. If you can do, then just do, thats better than talking. Our words are vain, compared to real meaningful action.

    I want to do. But I don’t know what to do.

    After 16 years of doing this, I still don’t know. I am still lost. I am still looking. Thats a very tough thing for me to admit. But you started the honest confessions and I’m following your lead.

    I want something deeper than what the seeker-friendly church down the street is selling. I want something more real than what charismania is selling. I want something more spiritual than what the hardcore bible geeks and fundamentalists are selling. I want to be witness, but not that hokey weak thing we see today.

    I have always felt that there would be a moment when the ho-hum of life would give way to the awesome-ness. I have always believed that at some future point in time, “real” ministry would start. That I’m only being prepared right now. But the days, months and years tick by with only that impending moment of accounting a head. And what will I say? I didn’t know? I thought I had more time?

    The only comfort I find now is in the unknown of the moment oddly enough. I have often seen myself living as two people. The christian person other believers see and the (non)christian that the world sees. But I have gotten fed up with that. I am now merging both. By many christian standards I am back-sliden. By my non believing friends I am the “spiritual” one. I am trying to be both selves to all people — I am what I am by the grace of God. I am finding connection with non-believers like I never have before. (I was always afraid of being really connected to a non-believer out of some fear that I would be contaminated) and with believers I am wanting to model a more real and grounded person.

    I don’t know the wisdom of this course (the unknown part). But like I said before. I don’t know what else to do.

    • jac9z

      Praise God for a honest soul, my heart soars as I continue to connect with your heart. Sometimes I am so frustrated as you on what passes for truth. I have struggled with some of the same issues you discuss. I went to a meeting “Healing” and saw how people were chasing gold teeth, heck I just wanted some real teeth since I wear dentures. So am I weak because I didn’t experience the manifestation of new teeth. God forbid let us chase God and not gifts I want to know the giver not what he leaves behind. I heard that our “church lost over 40 percent of its investment because of the stock market. I was suprised that we as a body had invested in the world. God forgive us. When we have homeless, widows, and the hungry in our community we have to trust in some financial institution, I just don’t understand what is going on. What a waste of Talents, I think of the servant who buried the talent. Maybe it’s because I don’t have much that it bothers me so much that my rich young fellow servants are so busy wanting 54 inch flat screen hdv tv’s. Sorry for ranting I just don’t know what to do with this feeling. I am going to keep trusting my savior to guide my steps and stop focusing on others.
      may our Lord pour down his amazing Love on each of you.
      your brother in christ,

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  9. connie

    First of all:

    What is this blog, chopped liver? *grin*

    Second of all, we are called to obey Him. You are obeying Him by providing for your family, loving your wife and children, fellowshipping with other believers….He orders your steps.

    Is there something He is leading you to do that you aren’t doing? Then you have a problem. Other than that, you are fretting-and guess what?

    That is a sin too.

    Look, our lives have seasons. In this season you do what is at hand, with an ear turned toward Heaven. His word says that the good works we are to do are prepared for us. We can trust Him to lead us to them.

    If the enemy can’t cause us to turn lukewarm, he is entirely happy to turn us to unproductive and hurtful introspection. Jesus is happy you want to obey Him. Just ask and keep on asking what He would have you do. He is faithful to lead you to it, and to enable you to do it.

    You are not called to “do great things for the Kingdom.”

    You are called to obey Him. In some seasons that might not look like much to an untrained eye.

    Make sure you are doing what you can do-being an honest and faithful worker, praying, caring for your wife and family, blessing others as the opportunity presents itself.

    God is not a tyrant with a bullwhip. When He asks you to do something major you’ll know it. Frankly, if you do what the above paragraph lays out you will be doing more than much of Christendom right there.

    • Connie,

      But plenty of people are doing just as you say and little is getting done for the Kingdom. That forces us to examine what the problems might be in the system that are making this so difficult.

      Fact is, if I were doing everything I felt God leading me to do, then He better make me independently wealthy and add another 20 hours to each day!

    • Hans

      Connie, I think you are right on, bless you

      Dan, how can you say nothing is happening for the Kingdom, sounds to me like you have too humanistic expectations of it, having certain expectations will always lead to disappointment, we are called to live in expectancy. Personally I believe there is lots happening for the Kingdom, but its all happening under the radar so to speak. I am fortunate in that I hang out and minister with a friend who sees very clearly in the Spirit , as we often say we don’t do anything but bear witness to what God is doing…

      My diner bell…see ya

  10. Thomas

    As another 46 year-old, I resonate with your thoughts. What has slowly come to me is that I need to be alert to those everyday encounters with the world and interact with the people I meet. I don’t need to push it as an agenda, but I need to “be ready to give a reason” if asked. Just listening to others is a way to minister to people in this very high-speed USA culture. I’m not called to be a full-time missionary. I *am* called to be a full-time Christian in the professional world which is where I’ve been gifted. And that means, for me, always being ready and available for a Spirit-led diversion in conversation from the here-and-now to the hereafter.

    It’s not mountaintop experience. And it isn’t flashy. It’s as simple as just befriending the parent of the kid that plays soccer with your kid and striking up a conversation and a relationship.

    • Thomas,

      As someone who works entirely from home, I have next to no contact with people during the week. It’s one of the reasons this blog exists. That makes it difficult to be salt and light in a world that is usually pretty far removed from my normal life. I mean, I really don’t have any co-workers, so that’s a big loss there. I used to be a strong witness in my work environments, but I don’t have that anymore.

      So it’s a problem.

  11. I can’t analyze your life for you and point out where you’re going wrong, but I wonder if you aren’t being a little too hard on yourself. Not everyone is called to be a street-corner preacher; sometimes we are put into different circumstances to be a witness there, too. Here’s something the Bible says about Christian’s jobs in the kingdom:
    “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12: 4-8).
    Look through this list, and ask God where you are gifted. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t compare to some super-street-witness people you’ve met. God made you and gifted you to do something for His kingdom, although it may not impress anyone but Him.
    On the topic of your everyday life, remember that God has given you the huge responsibility of teaching your son and leading your family in the way of godliness. Yes, non-Christian people care for their children, but if they don’t introduce them to Christ, they are killing them! Don’t put down your responsibility to your family as if it wasn’t impressive enough or as if it didn’t touch enough lives. If more people did this minimum, there would be less work for missionaries and pastors! In the kingdom of God, small seeds become giant trees. Be a good servant of God, and the rest will fall into place.
    As for doing more beyond that, you should ask God what He wants you to do, rather than doing what you thinkHe wants without asking. If He has asked you to be a missionary and you have refused, that’s one thing. If the idea came from a person and not God, however, it may just be that this other person felt guilty for his/her own disobedience and wanted to make sure everyone else felt bad, too. This issue can only be settled between you and God.

    • Rachel,

      Fact is, none of us is as hard on himself or herself as we should be. Most of us have people around us who are going to spend eternity in Hell, yet we’re either too busy to think on the ramifications of that reality or we’ve just given up on reaching them.

      In a way, it’s bizarre of us (and actually, quite faithless) that many of us would do anything to prevent a bomber from killing a dozen people in a bombing, but we don’t really give a damn about sharing Christ with those same dozen to give them a chance to hear the Gospel, find Christ, and avoid an eternity in anguish.

      • Dan,
        I’m not trying to suggest that Christians should abdicate their duties as Christians and go off into their comfortable little world where only their good, Christian friends can reach them. Christians forget sometimes that our existence is like a scene from “Night of the Living Dead”–we are truly alive, surrounded by spirituallydead people walking around. We have a responsibility to offer these dead people with the opportunity to live. Any other attitude would be suggesting that the horror other people live every day is not important.
        I totally agree with you that U.S. Christians should do more. I was pointing out that it is wrong to teach that every Christian is equipped to witness in the same way. Sometimes the people God wants you to reach are the people with which your work routine puts you in constant contact–like your coworkers, the cafeteria server, or the subway worker you talk to (but ignore) all the time. These are people the missionary in Haiti cannot reach, because he has never met them–but you have.
        So I guess what I was trying to say is that rather than blooming where you’re planted, you should bear fruit where you’re planted. We aren’t here to take up space or collect money; we are here to work for God. If that wasn’t our purpose, He would take us home to be with Him.

  12. Onesimus

    It seems like many western Christians have the opinion that their nations have been blessed by God, that the comforts and security they have enjoyed are His gifts.
    But have we been living blessed lives in our comfortable, prosperous western nations? Or are the “blessings we’ve had, really the thorns and the stones that prevent the seed of God’s word taking root and thriving?
    I think the latter is closer to the truth.

  13. Frank

    Dan, blessings on you and yours. You refer to the Matthew 28 “Great Commission” text as giving us a clue “as to Jesus’ standard of living,” and certainly it does.

    Notwithstanding, Christ said that the greatest commandments were to love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.

    James 2 reminds us that our faith will result in “good deeds.” Have faith in Christ’s ability to work in you and through you, and your work will glorify God. Love your neighbor as yourself and you will please God no end.

    The Scriptures do not tell us to “bloom where we’re planted.” Some of us do, but others don’t. Did Abraham “bloom where he was planted” in Ur? No, he came to fruition where God planted him. Obviously, God does not mean us all to be Abraham; we are not all meant to be great prophets and leaders. But we are all intended to love God and to love others.

    Dan, in your reply to Connie, you wrote: “…plenty of people are doing just as you say and little is getting done for the Kingdom.” How do you know this? How do you know what Kingdom work is happening all around you? How do you know the impact of what you write on this blog? –or what you say to your children? –or what you confide to your best friend?

    “Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord.”

  14. Bruce Dickey

    Tough thread, lots of lament, me too. However, there must be a balance, who am I to speak though, look at me…… pitiful….

    Phillipians 4

    4Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.

    5Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

    6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

    7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

  15. jac9z

    It seems most of only want to produce fruit in order to comsume it ourselves. When we do this the seed in the fruit becomes usless in reproducing another fruit bearing tree. God forgive our self centeredness. America is consumed with preparing for tomorrow that we lose sight of today. I believe that just like Isreal in the old testiment, American christians are so absorbed with the cares of this world and it’s economy that we are in danger of losing even what we have. Jesus says that we must lose our lives to gain it. So why do we lay up treasures in 401 K’s and stocks for tomorrow. The world is going through a shaking that cannot be mended by any politician or money managers, banks, or the US Treasury. Do we truly trust in God or the government. I thank God that I don’t have any credit because I suppose that my carnality would rise up in me for useless things that will burn up in the flames and will be shaken out. So I urge you Brothers and Sisters in Christ examine yourselves as to who you really trust in. Don’t let the cares of this world that is not our home keep you in bondage of idol worship.

  16. Pingback: Around the blogsphere 28th November 2008
  17. I suspect that the downfall of America, where we do indeed worship mammon, will be a hard answer to prayer. How many of us have prayed for a revival, for God to unleash the power of His Holy Spirit across our land? That process will make all of us look pretty ugly, especially if we aren’t thankful for the answer to our prayers, and aren’t ready to reach out to those who are moved by their circumstances to search for God.

  18. Dan,

    I guess I’m a little late to the party. Just discovered your blog tonight.

    I have a slightly different take on the whole matter. I believe that God places us in our situations as He sees fit, and calls us to several vocations. I am a father, a husband, a son, an employee, a boss, a member of a Christian congregation. With each of these positions come God given responsibilities.(eg. “He who does not provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever and denies the faith.” says the apostle Paul.) The Lutherans call this the doctrine of vocation, and it is one of Martin Luther’s biblical re-discoveries. He posited this teaching over against the Roman Catholic idea that if it wasn’t done “in the Church” or wasn’t “ministry” it was not Christian service to your neighbor, or valid service to God. Gene Veith wrote an excellent book on the subject called ‘God at Work.’ Our ‘witness’ is in our parenting, and at our work, and how we treat our parents, friends and neighbors, in addition to sharing the Gospel with folks. Maybe you and your commenters did not mean to, but some of the points made border dangerously close to the idea that unless you are involved in some sort of ‘ministry’ (read that as activity at, for, or about church and an overt sharing of the Gospel message), then it is of no real value in service to our Lord, and you aren’t following the Spirit’s lead.

    Looking around your blog I noticed some of your favorite authors and teachers. While making great contributions to theology and ministry, at least one of these gentlemen had the reputation as a lousy family man. More recently the son of a very prominent hero of the Evangelical world wrote a book pulling back the curtain on his crappy family life living perpetually in ministry with his family, and his father’s many failings. I only bring this up to make the point that there needs to be some balance. I have read several first person essays by people who exposed their families to ridiculous dangers in their zealous missionary endeavors. I have known Pastors who have destroyed their families, for the sake of “ministries” that God has called them to. Their witness was entirely destroyed and their children left the faith. We all know Christians who witness all the time at work, but are lazy, rude to customers, or otherwise poor employees. You can talk about Jesus all you want, but if the quality of your work sucks, or you have a chronically bad attitude, you only incite resentment against the church and fellow Christians.

    It’s easy to bash on those of us who have to work long hours to feed clothe and shelter our families, and whose strenuous efforts have provided a more than adequate standard of living; to say that we are materialistic, and need to spend more time in church related activity that passes for ministry, but I think it is a little more complicated than that.


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