When I was in High School, a Junior and Senior student to be precise, I was so active inviting my classmates for our youth services at church. I guess most of my classmates would remember me as that girl who keeps on bugging them every week to go to the youth service. It was one of the happiest moments of my life – seeing my classmates and batch mates (plus a few students from the lower batch) sing praises to God and humble themselves in His majestic presence was priceless. I cherished two of my classmates’ words one night after the service, “Naiyak talaga ako habang kumakanta. Ganun pala ako kamahal ni God.” (I cried while singing Him praises. I didn’t know that He loves me that much.) and “Dito na tayo mag-reunion sa College!” (Let us meet here for a reunion in College!)
But since I went to College, things changed. I stopped inviting my classmates to youth services (partly because I couldn’t attend the youth services near our school, so why should I invite if I myself couldn’t go there). I can give a lot of reasons why I really cannot attend services that time, but I was so busy I lost track of my walk with God. I became so distant. I didn’t notice I was already trapped within a deep chasm where, I think, God couldn’t hear me. It was the saddest and loneliest season of my life – living without depending on Him. I realized how hard it was to live without Him when He has become a part of your lifestyle.
Despite of all the dreadful things that happened to me, God is still gracious. He brought me back on track. He gave me opportunities to reach out to the lost. But I felt like I should not (not that I should NOT reach out to the lost people at all, but I have not been reaching out, really). I did not go back to inviting my classmates to youth services. Instead, what He let me see recently is this: there may be a lot of lost people out there that we need to reach out to, but we also have to take care of the flock that needs to stay on track with their walk with God. I heard testimonies about how they struggled to keep their faith and to keep their fire burning within them. I saw how they went so cold in their relationship with God. I heard their plight and agony with themselves and especially with God. It was a sad scene to see. I was so sad hearing these stories.
We may be busy reaching out to the lost, but are we also encouraging our co-believers with love? Do we give enough attention to the believers who are struggling with sin? Where is the grace that God poured out to His people when the same grace and forgiveness He has lavished upon us cannot be seen within and through us? An argument can be raised here, saying, “But it will be up to that person or believer to help himself/herself. I did my part. I encouraged him/her, but he/she is still like that.” The question is that have you persevered until you can’t bear it any longer? Have you endured walking with them through thorns and nails, through the pain they are carrying, through the burden they bring on their shoulders every day? How long were you there when you said that you will be there for them?
Going back to the basic, discipleship is relationship (not my original idea). How is your relationship with the lost people you once fished? With the people God entrusted you with? Once a leader in the congregation, I feel bad and guilty about this. But I am really amazed with what God has impressed to me. It’s not that I will totally stop reaching out to the lost. I must bear in mind that I should also remember the believers who are in dire need of help in their relationship with God. But as I help the believers, I should see to it that I must be the head, and not the tail that shall slip any time as I help them get back up.
Galatians 6:1 & 9 (ESV)
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted… And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (ESV)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
*The picture used in this post is not mine. Credits belong to the owner.