Christ Formed in You: The Power of the Gospel for Personal Change
Three excerpts at a time from the new book by Brian G. Hedges

Monday, August 8, 2011

Excerpt 20 of 22

Lots of things were on my mind that morning in the cafe. The last thing I wanted was some cheerful stranger invading my privacy.

Along with several men from our church, I was out of town attending a conference. I had gotten up early and slipped away to a pleasant café to read Scripture, eat breakfast, and catch up with e-mail. The whirlwind of the conference would resume shortly. Then there would be the long drive home and my return to a life wonderfully blessed by God, yet busier than I had once imagined adulthood could be. Looming especially large was the sermon I was set to give on Sunday, a message focusing on community, relationships, and the importance of small groups.

So when a man strolled up to my table and asked if he could join me—taking a seat before the words were even out of his mouth—I was honestly a bit annoyed. I faked a smile and tried to be friendly. We exchanged names (his was Kevin) and began talking. He learned that I was a pastor and I discovered that he was a Christian, a businessman, a poet, and close friends with an author whose work had significantly affected me several years before. But while it turned out to be an interesting conversation, I was still irked by the loss of solitude. After all, I was trying to do my devotions! I really didn’t have time for interruptions.

That’s when God sent me a message through this brother in Christ. As I was describing our church, I mentioned that we put a high value on community. Then Kevin, who knew nothing about the sermon incubating in my mind, looked at me and said, “The next time you are standing before your congregation, remember that people are hungry to be less selfish than they are, to be more connected to others than they are, to have deeper relationships than they have, and to feel less isolated than they feel – and they’re not going to get any of it if they are looking at you all the time.

It was exactly what I needed to hear. It was exactly the attitude I needed to take to the pulpit the following Sunday. And it was exactly the gentle rebuke I needed from God regarding my bad attitude about this violation of my precious agenda.

Sometimes God sends us messages when we least expect it. Often he does it through others. Both what Kevin said, and the fact that another person said it, illustrate the important truth we will focus on in this final chapter.

Transformation is a community project.