Christmas is a time to remember. Christ came to earth on our behalf. The scenes surrounding His birth are full of instruction for us. The story of Mary going to visit Elizabeth perfectly illustrates the fact that when we take Christ to someone, whom the Holy Spirit has prepared, the prepared person will often have a distorted picture of us. While it is not correct, many times, if not most of the time, the other person will focus on us and not Christ. We will appear bigger to them than Christ. We know that is not correct, but the new believer has not had time to see just how big Christ really is. They are so grateful to us, loving us in return for our loving them enough to bring Christ to them, that they have an inflated view of us. In time they will come to see Christ more clearly and we will rightly diminish in their sight.
This reality brings me to consider those who brought Christ to me. Rightly, they should diminish in my sight as I get a better view of Christ. However, they ought not to be forgotten either. I came to faith in Christ as a thirteen year old. I was alone at the time, but I most certainly did not come to Christ all by myself. This point was driven home to me in a very real and emotional manner one week ago. I was sitting in my office sorting through a stack of unopened mail. I came across a form letter from Guidestone, a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention. I am a SBC pastor. Guidestone was formed in 1918. I am not sure what all it does, but I am most familiar with it’s handling retirement accounts for SBC pastors. They invest responsibly (avoiding companies which promote sin) in mutual funds, etc. One of my favorite things that Guidestone does is their program called “Mission Dignity”. Mission Dignity disburses donated money to meet living expenses for retired SBC pastors and/or their widows. Many pastors of small churches have ministered for decades while drawing low salaries. Many lived in parsonages, thus they have no home of their own to retire in. Many are in dire need. Mission Dignity’s materials claim that 100% of donations reach those in need, with nothing held out for administrative or other costs. I knew all of this when I came to the Mission Dignity letter. I thought to myself, “I am already familiar with Mission Dignity and have already been exposed to all their materials. I like what they do but I don’t have time read their stuff right now, but it has served its purpose because it has prompted me to do something personally for the one who brought Christ to me.” I was preparing to drop the unopened letter into the wastebasket and at the same time making plans to place a Wal-Mart gift card in a Christmas card and mail to the pastor under whose ministry I was saved.
I am a recovering legalist so you know that whatever my intentions, I could not drop the unopened envelope in the trash. I opened the envelope, read the enclosed letter, and said to myself, “I knew all of that.” I opened the tri-fold brochure that was also in the envelope. The brochure included a photo that quickly caught my attention. It was of a husband and wife, but no names were included, not a word of who they were. I did not need the names. Of all the people across the world who received that brochure, I might be the only one who knew who they were, but I certainly did know. He was the pastor of the little country church where I was baptized. It was under his ministry that I learned that I needed a Savior and how to find this Savior. She was his wife and my Sunday School teacher when I got saved. God certainly got my attention. They are not bigger than Christ. I see Christ more clearly now I did back then. Clearly, this pastor and his wife are not the focus, Christ is, but neither should they be forgotten.
As you can see, God did not want me to miss this point. He could not have stunned me anymore if He had caused someone to hit me right between the eyes. I shed more than a few tears. If you know Christ, let me beg you to remember those who brought Christ to you. If you do nothing else, write a letter or make a phone call and thank those who loved you enough to bring Christ to you. Second, please make an effort to find out the financial condition of the pastor under whose ministry Christ was brought to you. If this pastor or his widow is in need, do something to help them. Meet their needs personally or find out if their denomination has a program like Mission Dignity where you can help. I do believe you will be blessed.
You can find out more about Mission Dignity at http://www.missiondignitysbc.org/