I hear a lot of people speak about the hardness of the ground in their context. They don’t seem to ever see many conversions and they lay the blame at the disinterest of the people around them. And, in many ways, they might well be right.
But there is also something to be said about actually seeking conversions too. Sometimes we don’t see conversions because, well, we just don’t really expect them to happen. We’ve convinced ourselves the ground is hard, so we never really press people to convert. We might make an appeal in our building, in our preaching, every now and then, but most the unbelievers aren’t in there. We often aren’t in our communities actively taking the gospel out and, when we do, we don’t often want to call people to actually convert.
Lots of people say things like, ‘if they spend time with us Christians, they’ll see the difference’. Well, maybe they will (maybe they won’t, which probably needs looking at!) But seeing the difference, such as they see it at all, doesn’t necessarily lead people to Christ. A lot of people may see the difference and think, ‘they’re different to me. That’s nice for them.’ Others might think, ‘I wish I had what they have’, but unless somebody actually tells them how to get it, their seeing the difference doesn’t really accomplish very much.
The problem for some of us is that we have convinced ourselves that people are so anti the gospel that we are a bit scared to actually offer it to them. We assume that people wouldn’t respond, so we don’t put a call to repent and trust in Christ in our preaching. Because we know most non-Christians aren’t coming into the church, we forget that there are still some non-Christians in the church building. There may be children of believing parents who haven’t trusted in Jesus yet. There may be visitors who haven’t believed. There may well be regulars who you just aren’t sure where they stand. There may even be some who you thought are saved but, actually, aren’t. And that is all just in our building on a Sunday!
Outside of our building, in our community, there are hundreds of people who don’t yet know Christ. And many of them, probably most of them, aren’t nearly as hostile to hearing the gospel as we think, at least not in the ways we think. But if nobody ever goes and tells them the gospel, and what they need to do with it once they’ve heard it, we can’t be that surprised if nobody converts, can we? If nobody is ever called to conversion, why would they think of converting?
The only way that we will see conversions, then, is if we seek them. If we assume nobody will convert, then more likely than not, nobody will convert. The Lord may do something apart from us; but the Bible tells us that’s not generally the way he chooses to work. In our preaching, whilst mainly aiming it at believers, it is good to call people to convert to Christ. In our evangelism, we need to not be cowed by what people might be thinking, and boldly share the gospel, calling them to the same conversion that Jesus calls them to.