Buy the Way
“Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20-21, NASB)
In a way, I suppose I'm in sales. As a preacher, a big part of my job is talking about an idea and providing a behavioral imperative. It matters to me that there's a difference between buying a Buick, say, and resolving to live like a child of God, but it's fair to note the overlap.
Like any salesperson, if I'm not getting buy-in, I'm not doing my job. I've got colleagues who don't seem to be bothered by this. I don't know if that serenity comes from some kind of spiritual revelation or from a profound desire to hear themselves talk, regardless of outcome. For my part, I have to confess that I've gotten my ego bruised more than once when I couldn't make the sale.
Yes, of course, I'm wholly converted to my product, like any good salesman. I'm in love with it, in fact. Yes, I'm doing everything I can to be as good as I can be at this job. Yes, the stakes are high.
But not infinitely high. After all, one decision isn't going to curse or bless the rest of your life. This journey goes on forever, but you are new every moment. Every thought, word, and action creates your next experience, and so the potential for growth, change, and revolution is always there. If I don't get you today, I'll try again on Sunday.
In fact, let me try again right now. Jesus said "go and sin no more" and equivalent phrases a number of times in Scripture. If sin was a permanent state, the statement would be meaningless. Remember with me that the word "sin" just means "error," a missing of the mark. He is telling us we have a choice about what happens next.
If everything on the outside is created by what happens on the inside, I can't make a positive tomorrow by being negative about today. Even if it seems like I'm talking about the past or present, my words can only go into the future, co-creating my next experience.
Have you ever learned anything the hard way? I certainly have, and I'm grateful for the opportunity. One of the things I've learned is that the educational moment only happens if I'm open to it. If I spend my time fighting the error, in denial of the mistake, in an argument with life, that intense expenditure of ego prevents the growth I so desperately require.
(Did I say "prevents?" I meant "postpones." You and I both know how life has a way of turning up the volume until we hear the lesson we need to hear. Don't try this at home, kids.)
Here's the point. Whether your congregation is a bunch of people or the collection of thoughts in your head and feelings in your heart, it's okay if you don't have the whole crew convinced. Do you need unilateral validation in order to do the right thing? You can fight, beg, and argue, or you can accept the learning opportunity and move on.
Find one thing, one thought, one person, one idea that works. One. True. Thing. Agree with it. Agree with God. The two of you are all it takes to make a difference.