Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.
~Galatians 6:12-15 (New International Version)~
Sometimes, even the best of intentions can bring about the worst possible conclusion. As with the experience of salvation, we must always be aware that our actions can either serve to advance the call of the Holy Spirit or to completely deter someone in their pursuit of it. It is great to be enthusiastic, optimistic and even bubbling over with joy over our own experiences with God. It is not always prudent, however; to push this on others who may or may not be ready to take big steps in their walk with Him. For some, an overly enthusiastic Christian in their midst can be just as damaging as spending time with those who don’t believe at all. We don’t get extra “Jesus points” for bringing others to the altar. It is not, as they say, a “push-pull-or-drag” event. When someone is ready to begin their relationship with God, they will know. And while it doesn’t hurt to let others know how much we love Him and what they stand to gain from a relationship with Him, there is a fine line between rubbing our joy in the face of others and in gently nudging them toward their own learning experience.
God wants us to love one another and in loving each other we must be aware of how our outward manifestation of the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives may or may not offend those around us. Joyce Meyer talks about this in one of her teachings. She says, in short, that our ability to worship and our desire to do so in a certain way shouldn’t override our sense of respect for the comfort of others. This is why she doesn’t allow people in the audience to play tamborines during worship and also why she doesn’t allow people to bring in snakes or other reptiles during services. Out of respect for what impedes the worship experience for others, if we love Christ, we should have no problem reeling back our own enthusiasm or any flamboyant expressions of faith that make others feel like they might not be in the right place. By the same token, we cannot spend our time trying to convince others to go to the altar or trying to make them understand a word that we may have received for them when they aren’t ready to hear it. If it becomes such an overwhelming urge that we can’t shut ourselves up, it is highly likely that the Spirit didn’t send the word for your friend. It is more likely that the word was sent for you.
I’m not saying we can’t enjoy worship. I’m not even saying we can’t take off running and shouting if the Spirit moves us. I’m saying that we cannot ever make someone experience that enthusiasm in the way we feel they should experience it. Their relationship with God and their expressions of faith and joy must be based on their feelings and on their communications with the Spirit, not on what we feel the Spirit is trying to say to them. The Holy Spirit doesn’t operate through a middle man and it cannot be manipulated or forced upon someone. It cannot be organized into what is convenient or into what makes sense to us in the natural. It has a power all its own and we cannot make someone feel it any more than we can breathe for them.
Often, when we try to persuade someone to let God’s power work in their life, the more we push the more we create the potential for that person to stumble. The more we push, the harder we push, the less likely that person will be to recover from a fall. Like the alcoholic who quits drinking because someone else wants him to quit, we leave that person open to relapse. Doing anything because it is another person’s desire for you to do it can only result in feelings of resentment, bitterness and disappointment when, as humans, we fail to live up to the standard set by man. Expecting someone to do something because you want them to do it can be equally as disastrous. Our role as Christians is not to aggressively push people toward Christ. If we are living our lives by God’s plan, His light will shine through us. If we are reaching out to offer help where it is truly needed and not just an opinion where we have decided one is warranted, we are doing His will. Examine your motives before you start dragging people to the altar. Are you really hearing God’s call here or have you just decided that your own misery would love some company? Is your heart in the right place or are you just determined to gain the sympathy of others as you struggle through your walk?
If you aren’t completely happy with or at least accepting of where you are in your walk, you are in no position to pull anyone along behind you, beside you or to push them out in front of you to scout the path ahead. Your friends are not on your path. They have their own. The sooner you accept this, the sooner they will accept it and start to walk on the path that God has laid in front of them. If God won’t force His will on us, then we have absolutely no right to try and force ours on others and call it God’s plan for them. Preach if you must, teach if you can, but give people the space they need to grow. This is what He wants for us and what we should want for others.
“As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”