Everywhere that I have had a bank account, the understanding is basically the same.
First, you must make a deposit. There is a period of waiting until the initial check clears. Then if you choose, a withdrawal can be made.
I have never heard of a bank that allows a withdrawal before a deposit has been made. (If you know of such a bank, you really owe it to the rest of the planet to let us in on this amazing institution… This deal must be advertised a bit. How they would stay in business is not important to us – it’s just important that they allow people to withdraw from a nonexistent fund!)
This routine of “Deposit First – Withdraw Later” is violated continually, by regular church people – and without realizing what they are doing – church leaders-teachers-pastors are encouraging this pattern. How so?
We model and strongly encourage people to approach virtual strangers with a call to a dramatic life change. This is akin to not just a spiritual drive-by. Think drive-by with a rapid-fire bazooka and you are close to the reality here.
Am I suggesting one ought never to call a complete stranger to conversion? Not in the least. What I am saying is that a dramatic encounter such as this is the exception to the norm. The norm is that we ‘bring’ the gospel. We don’t ‘send’ the gospel. To bring anything has everything to do with personal connections, relationship, a touch, and the word we love to use around Christmas – ‘Incarnation.’
It’s funny how we love to talk about ‘Incarnation’ around Christmas but shun that word/concept after December 26th. We bring the message of Jesus every time we connect with people. If you continue to ‘send’ the message – well, you will continue to see lots of rejections.
When those rejections come, do all of us a favor – for Pete’s sake, don’t sit back and glibly mutter something about the hard-heartedness of this generation. You may be partly right. Then again, you may be referring to your own hard-heartedness.