Witnessing to Family Is Like Witnessing to Everyone Else . . . Only More So - page 3


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From the Winter 2014 issue of Knowing & Doing:  

Witnessing to Family Is Like Witnessing to Everyone Else . . .
Only More So

by Randy Newman, M.Div.
Senior Teaching Fellow for Apologetics and Evangelism, C.S. Lewis Institute

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  One Saturday night while back home, Ed jotted a note on a piece of cardboard to his father who had already gone to sleep. With little hope of it making any difference, he wrote, “Dad, if you’d like to accompany me to the 11 a.m. service at church tomorrow, wake me a little before 10:00.”
  To his great surprise, his father did wake him. Ed told me, “It was more out of surprise than delight that I went to church with my
father that morning. I still had a long way to go in feeling any fond affection for him.” This was one of those churches that offered an invitation for people to receive Christ every week. Every sermon ended with the words, “If you’d like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I want you to slip out of your seat right now and come to the front of the church.” Using that same phrase, Ed said to me, “More out of surprise than delight, I saw my father walk forward and kneel at the railing in the front of the church.” After the service was over, when Ed asked him what prompted him to go forward, his father said, “Chains could not have held me back.”
  Perhaps Jesus’ second parable about seed in Mark 4 can help us understand Ed’s father’s story better. Or, more helpful still, maybe this parable will enable you to hold out hope, pray with expectation, and look for signs of growth that may have escaped your notice before now. Jesus said,

The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come. (Mark 4:26–29)

  Do you note how ordinary this process seems? Commentator James Edwards observes,

A more banal comparison could not be imagined. The kingdom of God should be likened to something grand and glorious: to shimmering mountain peaks, crimson sunsets, the opulence of potentates, the lusty glory of a gladiator. But Jesus likens it to seeds. The paradox of the gospel—indeed, the scandal of the Incarnation—is disguised in such commonplaces.2

  In the daily rhythms of ordinary life, sleeping and rising, night and day, the kingdom of God advances, even if we know not how. Ed wonders how much the weekly rhythm of his mother and his going to church may have spoken volumes to his grumpy father. The seed of the kingdom can break through the hardening forces of alcohol, tobacco, television, and even the affectionless disdain of a son who goes off to college and wants little to do with a father back home.
  The third parable may be the most encouraging of all. Jesus told us the kingdom of God is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade (Mark 4:31–32).
  Here, Jesus offers a more illustrative way of saying what the parable of the soils told numerically, that some seed will bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold. What starts out as just a phone conversation, an e-mailed question, a mention of “I’ll be praying for you,” a gift of a book or DVD, or a note scribbled on a piece of cardboard, can bring about a widespread harvest beyond all dreams.

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