In the contemporary Christian song “Fifteen,” Greg Long speculates that it takes 15 significant interactions with authentic believers for someone to accept Christ as Lord and Savior of their life.
Research by George Barna has shown that this premise is actually quite accurate for this postmodern world we live in. In the song, Greg encourages Christians to openly share their faith because “what if I’m 15” (when the individual accepts Christ)! He sings:
“If it takes 15 times to hear about Jesus, for someone to believe.
Wherever I stand in life, I got to make a difference in case it comes down to me.
Cause I may be the 1st, I may be the 7th, there may be years in between,
What if I’m 15? What if I’m 15?”
However, what the song fails to emphasize is the importance of interactions 1-14. Without this cultivation, many people will never reach the point of being ready to accept Christ. As Paul states it, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.” (1 Cor. 3:6) As a Christian community, we sometimes are focused on being the 15th because it is at this point that we know definitively that we have made a difference in someone’s eternal life.
Being A Cultivator
As a faculty member, I feel my primary role is being a cultivator (a 1-14 kind of person). In my 20 years at Purdue, I have been number 15 for only one student. But I have had dozens of significant spiritual discussions with many students and have identified myself as a believer in the classroom for hundreds of students over the years.
There are times I wonder if I have made any difference at all in the lives of my students because I haven’t led many students to accept Christ. However, every once in awhile God allows me a glimpse into how he is using me in the lives of my students.
This spring I received an email from one of my former students. It reminded me that planting seeds and watering is equally important to harvesting:
“You won’t remember me, but I was one of your students back in 1995 or 1996 in ME270, I believe. I graduated in 1998 with a BSMSE.
“After college, in the spring of 1999, I got saved, alone in my apartment. I called upon the name of the Lord, and I believed in Him. By the grace of God, I have been growing in my faith ever since. The reason I am writing you is to thank you for one thing you said that semester, one of the first things you said to your class. It was something like, “Before we get started, I want you to know that everything I do is influenced by my belief in Jesus Christ.”
“At that time, during my college years, I was unsaved, living like a pagan. But God had begun a work in me. Through secular subjects like Physics and Materials Science classes, He began to open my eyes to the beauty and order of His creation, via the revelation of physical laws and order on the atomic scale that were obviously brought about by an intelligent designer, indeed, a Holy, omnipotent God. I was receiving more of an education than I ever would have imagined.
“Anyway, I wanted to thank you for your faithfulness in confessing your savior before your class that day. Although you did not witness to me specifically with any scripture, your profession, along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and others’ witness along the way, helped lead me to the Lord. Still today, in the corporate world where I work, your simple statement continues to be an influence and example to me as I try to be a Christian witness to my co-workers.
“Thanks again and may God richly bless you.”
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In Isaiah God tells us, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11 NIV).
God has a purpose in every divine appointment. We may never know the full impact of sharing our faith with our students, but promises that His word does not return empty!
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© 2007 J.D. Jones