Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A story that proves a point

As a follow up to the Great Library Experiment post –

Dyah made some great comments about the post: “Library as a ministry...That's a very good idea, Russell. I love the idea of the library, too; the idea of sharing and getting knowledge for free; something that might be taken for granted. I can't afford to buy every book I've borrowed from the library. And to be able to order books online and pick them up every week on the library that's three blocks away from home is amazing!”

However, God, in His infinite sense of humor, brought this subject back to my attention in church this Sunday. My good friend, Chris Reeder, came to preach for us. Chris is an Air Force Chaplain and a pretty straightforward preacher.

Chris told us how the public library was instrumental in his coming to faith. Before he was a Christian, Chris felt God hammering away on the doors of his heart. He said his first real prayer: “God, I don’t believe in you, so just go away.” But God didn’t go away, so over time, Chris began to pray “OK, God, If you’re going to keep bothering me, I have some questions you have to answer – I have some real problems with you.” Most of his problems were around the issue of suffering.

So Chris went to the public library and browsed the stacks of the religion section. Here he found works by Josh McDowell, CS Lewis, and others. And God used these books to answer Chris’s questions and bring him to faith. They weren’t the only factor, but they were a factor. So as Chris told the story, I couldn’t help but remember Paul in I Corinthians 3:5-7

“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”

Paul is talking about divisions among church leaders, but he makes the point that God uses many different instruments in growing up disciples. As Chris demonstrated with his story, the public library can be a great instrument.

So I suggest we as Christians need to use the library – request that they carry books we’re interested in. Instead of buying books, let’s increase the circulation of good Christian books in the library – they will get the message. Let’s have our book groups study Mere Christianity and The God who is there and Augustine’s Confessions and let’s ask the library to stock extra copies. Lets throw our support behind libraries as they seek funding and be their best friend. And then, when we’ve scattered seed through the stacks of the library – who knows how God will make it grow?

A related thought for a future post perhaps – does the online wikipedia – the encyclopedia that readers edit – provide a similar opportunity? Just thinking.

Soli Deo Gloria