I talked to Austin Park this morning. He’s 20 years old, and he’s going off from Rose Creek Village to join ITEC and be taught by Steve Saint and friends how to help spread the Gospel to the whole world. He was raised at Rose Creek Village, and we devoted ourselves to teaching him how to follow Christ.
We forgot, however, to teach him how to be a Christian.
So he called today to ask. "What church do I go to?" "Is it okay to go to church?" "Do I have to care about end times?" "Why are Christians so condemning toward Jehovah’s Witnesses."
Now that was an enjoyable conversation!
I want to talk, though, about only one of his questions: "Why did Steve Saint make an exception for me and know so quickly he should?"
Diligently Preserve the Unity of the Spirit
Austin didn’t exactly ask that question. It was more a topic we discussed. I thought, however, you’d appreciate it if I didn’t type out our whole phone conversation, but reduced it to a question and answer.
Austin told me that Steve Saint knew within half an hour that Austin was sent to meet a need of theirs. He also told Austin that Austin has the spiritual maturity of a much older man.
I haven’t met Steve Saint. He’s the son of Nate Saint, who was martyred in Ecuador with Jim Elliott, a story which was covered in the movie, End of the Spear. I’ve only heard him speak, and I’ve talked to others who are now meeting and talking to him. Steve Saint is a spiritual man.
Austin has spiritual maturity, and Steve Saint could see into Austin’s heart quickly … both are true for the same reason.
Austin has spiritual maturity, not because of what we’ve taught him, but because of what we haven’t taught him.
Austin told me that concerning many of the subjects he’s discussed with Christians he’s met, his answer has repeatedly been, "I don’t really care."
Christians today think that unity comes from doctrine. We have all these doctrines we care about. We honor the Scriptures, most of the time more than we honor God. God might lead us astray, most Christians think, but the Scriptures won’t. We’re safer if we have good, solid, black-and-white Scriptural guidance for what we believe and how we live than if we lean on invisible, possibly emotional Spiritual guidance.
That’s ridiculous, and if it doesn’t kill you spiritually, it will make you deathly ill.
It will certainly hide your heart and stunt your spiritual growth.
Spiritual men have learned what to care about and what not to care about. Spiritual men are capable of preserving the unity of the Spirit because they’re not covering up spiritual unity with all sorts of brilliant, insightful—and even Scriptural—theological ideas.
Steve Saint and Austin touched hearts quickly because we’ve never clogged up Austin’s spirit with good Christian ideas. We just left him to God.
Good Christian Ideas and Spiritual Power
Sometimes that’s embarrassing. He doesn’t know all the Bible stories that the Sunday school kids know. He doesn’t know all the right Scriptures. He may never have paid much attention to "for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Instead, he learned verses like "warn the unruly and comfort the fainthearted," so he’d know how to talk to friends.
But it’s never embarrassing when the battles come. No one ever regrets having Austin alongside them on the spiritual front lines. You turn, and he’s still there. Provisions and supplies run low, and people are collapsing everywhere, and you turn, and Austin is saying, "I’m still here; we’ll win in the end."
When the battle’s not raging, you may find our kids sitting in the theater watching Harry Potter, or worse, the latest Matt Damon movie.
Sometimes it may be appropriate to be embarrassed about things like that; however, what’s never embarrassing is that every one of them knows that the ultimate sin is to talk about the movie afterward without including every one of their friends, or to ignore the lonely stranger sitting in the corner, or to be too busy to open a door for a lady or to help someone in need.
No one left out, no one lonely, always have time for people, and always serve them.
That ought to be a Scripture or something.
"They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another."
"If you want to be great in God’s kingdom, learn to be the servant of everyone."