When I began my medical residency in 1988, a famous lung research institute was located next to the university hospital. This lung institute was renowned for its pioneering work in the field of lung disease. But apparently, the focus of their research may have been different several decades ago. In the office where the residents worked, a faded black and white framed photo hung on the wall. This photo, taken in the early 1950’s, showed several white coated physician researchers, enjoying a cigarette break. In the background, clearly visible, was the name and facade of the famous lung institute. One my chief residents remarked on the photo, “Ah, the good ‘ol days!”
Medicine has quickly evolved, even within the past few years. Ideas or habits that were once accepted are now shunned and recognized as harmful. We can laugh and shake our heads at examples like the photograph of the cigarette smoking physicians but deep down we may wonder about whether any of the activities which we currently engage in may actually be harmful.
When I first became a Christian, I was on fire and determined to share the Gospel with anyone who would listen. While this was admirable, it was also offensive to many people, including my father. I was eager to share my new faith with him but I would not stop there. My father was a dentist and I placed a number of small pamphlets explaining the Gospel in a few pages. The booklets had titles like, “Who is Jesus?” and “Can I Trust the Bible?” But I also placed some additional booklets entitled, “Are Mormons Christians?” When my father discovered these booklets, he was rightfully upset and demanded to know if I placed them there. When I admitted I did, he chastised me and said, “You know, I have a lot of Mormon patients and they would be highly offended if they read this. You should have first asked my permission before placing those pamphlets there.”
He was absolutely right. In my enthusiasm to share the Gospel, I was not sharing love or compassion. I was more concerned about sharing and not addressing the true spiritual needs of those whom I met.
For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness.
Romans 10:2-3 (ESV)
I still share the Gospel with whomever I interact. However, the Holy Spirit has allowed me to emper my sharing with love and compassion. I seek to know the person with whom I share the Gospel rather than launching into a sermon on how to be saved. I now realize that my zeal was without knowledge and, like the Jews whom the Apostle Paul was describing in the passage above, I was seeking to establish my own righteousness instead of God’s.
We are commanded by Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations. Like the good ol’ days of my youth, I still have that fervor to share the gospel, but I must continually yield to God’s direction and guidance to provide me zeal with knowledge.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.