Ask Father Paul
Answers to your questions about life, religion and the Bible
Pastors get some of the most interesting questions from people they meet and people in their congregations. Here are a few that I have gotten over the years and via email for this column.
Dear Father Paul: My adult son doubts and rejects the whole Gospel message of Christ. He seems to have little interest in spiritual things. I sent him your last “proof of Jesus’ resurrection” column. What more can I (and should I) do? — Paul
Dear Paul: I get this (and similar questions) a lot. Many believers, like yourself, have relatives, loved ones and people they care about who have not (as yet) become believers. It is agonizing for those of us who are in your situation when we consider the eternal consequences of their inaction.
Still, I have found in my years of ministry that we can’t nag, cajole, manipulate, pressure or even threaten (with fire and brimstone) those we love into the Kingdom of God. These ploys seldom, if ever, work.
Simply put, you and I can’t “save” anyone. Nor do any of us “find God.” He is not lost ... we are! No, he “finds and calls “ us. In short, we are not the Holy Spirit ... God is. Oh we can be God’s messengers all right, but the “calling” ... the convicting ... the wooing if you will, is God’s work, not ours. Specifically it’s the work of the Holy Spirit of God. Once we realize this, we are set free to simply live a godly life in front of our loved ones and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading of what to say ... and when to say it. And ... we don’t have to keep “beating ourselves up” over the fact that our loved one(s) are not saved yet. True, God-like love, lived consistently day in, day out, by us, in front of our loved ones is almost irresistible.
Again, God does the “calling.” We don’t. In Acts 2: 39 Peter is preaching the first sermon of the new Christian Church on the Day of Pentecost. He says these words (italics, mine) ...”For the promise is for you, for your children and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him,” Later, in I Peter 2:9, Peter says these words, “You (believers) are a chosen people ... a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you might declare the praise of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
So, Paul, this is what you, and any other believer who wants to see a loved one come to Christ must do. Three things. Live a consistent, godly life in front of them, be ready to share your faith when prompted by the Holy Spirit, and pray earnestly every single day that God will begin to “call” them to himself.
Personal to “No Name Please.” The “purpose of this life,” as you put it, is to get ready for the next life.
Do you have a question or a comment? I will try to answer your question in the paper. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.