Whenever we spend a significant amount of time trying to teach others about God, we can easily get frustrated or discouraged when we see no immediate response or noticeable impact. This can lead to moments where we begin to question ourselves or become calloused towards those that we are trying to teach. Both of these options are not good.
This morning, I was reading through the first eleven chapters of Ezekiel, and I found some encouragement for these moments from the special assignment that God gives the prophet Ezekiel. Ezekiel describes it in 2:2-5 as follows:
And as he spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.
God sends Ezekiel as his special representative to speak to the people on his behalf and to proclaim to them what God has said. And then God tells Ezekiel that whether they hear or refuse to hear they will know that a prophet has been among them.
This means that Ezekiel’s mission was not to make sure that people responded in obedience to his message but rather to make sure that the people had no excuse for their continual life of disobedience. The response of the people was out of Ezekiel’s hands; his responsibility was to faithfully deliver the message that God had given him.
God repeats this instruction to Ezekiel again in 3:11 when he says:
And go to the exiles, to your people, and speak to them and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ whether they hear or refuse to hear.”
Jesus repeats similar instructions when he sends out a team of his disciples in Luke 10:8-11:
Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say: “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.”
God has given all of us a special assignment to teach others about him on his behalf. Our mission is to represent God with integrity and to faithfully deliver the message that God has given us with love. The response of those that we teach is out of our control. We should be disappointed and sorrowful when we don’t see the kind of response that we had hoped for, but we should not be angry or become calloused towards those that we are trying to teach.
From now on, when I find myself in a teaching environment where I am proclaiming what God has said in Scripture, I want everyone in that setting to leave there without any excuse knowing that they just heard the word of God. That’s a goal that I can control. Let’s focus on faithfulness and let God handle the fruitfulness.