2 Chronicles 30:9 “If you return to the Lord, then your brothers and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will come back to this land, for the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate. He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”
This invitation to repentance was honest and straightforward, as opposed to politically correct, and the next verse indicates it wasn’t received very well. However, some people did receive it and respond, as verse 11 indicates. That is generally the case with calls to repentance, so the fact that the response is sparse should never keep us from making the call. That’s closely related to Jesus’ parable of the banquet in Matthew 22, and I think underlies the last line of that parable: “For many are invited, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14) The thing we’ve got to remember, however, is that if none are invited, none will respond. We all dream of massive response to evangelism, but that is entirely in God’s hands; we certainly can’t force anyone to be saved. As the saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Our job is to provide, or actually point out, the water.
This could hardly be any more appropriate to ministry in Japan. Statistically, no other nation even comes close in terms of the low rate of return for effort in evangelism. Since 1934 my family has been actively involved in calling the Japanese to Christ, and indeed, some have responded magnificently. However, their number is few indeed, when compared to the time frame and the effort involved. And as I wrote that, the Lord said I should stop comparing! I am to rejoice in those who do respond and equip them in turn to extend the invitation themselves. It’s like Paul said to Timothy: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2) I am to be faithful in declaring the Word myself, as well as in raising up others who will likewise be faithful in that task. It is interesting to me that no more “conversions” than I have had, how many have been called into ministry themselves (though not all have followed that call). Some have accepted and responded to the call after leaving here, but that’s fine. Meanwhile, I’ve got to be faithfully persistent (or persistently faithful). I am to seek God’s wisdom and God’s words to express the Good News of the kingdom as effectively as possible, and trust Him with the results.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for those who have responded to Your call, even if they have run from it for a while. I pray for good fruit for them, and for me as well. May all of Your children realize that they are called to be witnesses (Acts 1:8) and not shrink from it, but rather seek more and more of Your Spirit to enable them to fulfill Your commission, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!