Proper Use of Magnets

Not long ago I took three vehicles that were sitting around my yard to the scrap metal yard in exchange for some much needed cash. I not only made my yard look much nicer and made some room, but what I observed there gave me some valuable insights as to some of the ways that God relates to us. Let me explain how I came to see Jesus and myself in the scrapyard.

When I pulled into the scrapyard pulling my trailer with a vehicle strapped on it, I observed that a giant crane was working with a very large, heavy flat-bottomed piece of steel was suspended from it. It was a giant electromagnet that is commonly used to move large amounts of steel around quickly in situations like that. The operator of the crane was very skilled in manipulating the crane, the heavy magnet swinging around and the controls that instantly switch the power on and off supplying current to the magnet.

As I watched with little-boy fascination, he would sweep the large magnet low over the scrap pile and turn on the magnet. Immediately a lot of steel scraps would stick to the magnet and when the operator was satisfied that he couldn't get much more to cling to it he would lift if up high and swing it over to a waiting trailer. When the magnet was positioned just right above the trailer he would switch off the power to the magnet and all the steel would suddenly drop away into the trailer. Then the operator would swing the magnet back to the scrap pile and start the process all over again.

The next day as I again observed similar activity, I noticed that the crane operator would spend a few moments dropping the very heavy magnet down into the trailer with the power turned off to smash the steel tighter into the trailer to make more room. If the magnet had been turned on during that time it would have only made a really big mess and he could not have packed the trailer tighter. In reality, at that point it was not acting as a magnet at all but simply as a wrecking ball. Not until he removed the unpowered magnet and later turned it on to pick up more steel was it again acting attractively.

So what does this have to do with how God relates to me? After some recent events and reading some very insightful passages this morning, I believe it has a great deal to teach me about how God wants to use me – and also how there are some ways I should not allow myself to be used.

First of all, I have been learning some very important lessons about how God works to save sinners and how He does not work. It is becoming more and more clear to me that God only works along the lines of attraction rather than force and intimidation. This is directly contrary to most religious beliefs, but it is coming clear to me from my careful study of Scripture and other sources. God is not in the wrecking ball business but is in the salvage business. And the means He relies on to extract sinners from a world that has become no more than a scrapyard destined to be destroyed is the power of attraction alone.

As I began to form these ideas and wanted to quickly capture them this morning before I went back to flush them out more fully, I jotted down three main points that emerged almost immediately.

  • Loving and lovable Christians.
  • Jesus is attractive.
  • He must increase but I must decrease.

For my life to have any real effect in cooperating with the only valid methods that God uses to save sinners, I must first come to realize that His methods and His methods alone will accomplish what He wants to do to transform sinners into restored family members who are safe to live with Him and with each other for eternity. God wants me to allow Him to hook me up to His crane and get daily wired up to His power source so that He can use me during the day to be an attraction to others who are laying around broken and shattered and hopeless. But the only way that can be accomplished is to have the power of the Holy Spirit flowing through me in sufficient amounts to create a strong magnetic field around me that is attractive for Him.

If I am just hooked up to the cables of the crane and swinging wildly around the yard without any internal power of love flowing through my heart, I am most likely only going to either create a lot of show with no lasting effect or even worse I am liable to smash and further damage those who are already hurting, wrecked and wounded and make them even more afraid of God.

An electromagnet is only effective and attractive when it has power flowing through it. Externally it looks exactly the same whether the power is on or off, but the invisible magnetic atmosphere created around it produces effects when that power is turned on that makes all the difference when it comes to attracting others away from the scrap pile. This reminds me of a quotation that I learned many years ago.

It is our own character and experience that determine our influence upon others. In order to convince others of the power of Christ's grace, we must know its power in our own hearts and lives. The gospel we present for the saving of souls must be the gospel by which our own souls are saved. Only through a living faith in Christ as a personal Saviour is it possible to make our influence felt in a skeptical world. If we would draw sinners out of the swift-running current, our own feet must be firmly set upon the Rock, Christ Jesus.
The badge of Christianity is not an outward sign, not the wearing of a cross or a crown, but it is that which reveals the union of man with God. By the power of His grace manifested in the transformation of character the world is to be convinced that God has sent His Son as its Redeemer. No other influence that can surround the human soul has such power as the influence of an unselfish life. The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving and lovable Christian. {MH 470}

There is a part of the analogy I observed in that scrapyard that is also a lesson of warning. Too often we have the same attitude as that of the crane operator who chose to use the giant magnet like a club to smash the steel into conformity to the trailer to pack it in tighter and force it into shape. Now, that may not be a problem at all when you are dealing with scrap steel, but when it comes to dealing with salvaging hearts and souls it is an altogether different matter.

How often do Christians allow themselves to become battering rams instead of magnets for God? Once others have been attracted to come into fellowship with us, possibly by joining our church or some other association, sometimes it is too easy to fall for the temptation of trying to squeeze them into the mold of our traditions and culture and formalities instead of allowing the attractions of Jesus to take over and draw them closer to intimate fellowship with God without our interference.

We terribly misrepresent God when we try to force others to be better Christians or to conform to our ideas of what is right and wrong for them. God does not endorse the use of force, for force is anathema to love. Where there is force there can never be love and trust. God simply is not at all interested in an eternity where there is intimidation and force, for that would only perpetuate the problem of rebellion and sin. Love requires total freedom or cannot be love. Unless we treat each other with the methods that God uses we cannot represent Him accurately and attract others to want to know Him better. We only become battering rams trying to get others to conform to our image instead of being conduits of His beauty and attractiveness to draw them the way Jesus draws.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, "My master is delaying his coming," and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:45-51 NKJV)

Unlike the way the crane operator forces scrap metal into the trailer, using the magnet like a battering ram, God has a different method for using us to draw others into relationship with Him. Jesus Himself has a far greater attraction with far more powerful magnetic qualities than any of us will ever have. Jesus is the original magnet that is never unattractive and needs no external source of power, unlike electromagnets that must have outside current applied to make them effective. God is the origin of all magnetism and is the most attractive force in the universe when perceived properly. Our role is to allow our lives to be so filled with the beauty and loveliness of Jesus that we initially attract people by our demonstrations of God's love. But as soon as possible we need to introduce them to the real source of our attractiveness and hand them off to the far greater attractions of Jesus.

Because Jesus' attraction is infinitely more powerful than ours can ever be, the superior drawing power of Jesus will overcome our weak, little reflected attraction and we can let go of our attachments with those we have attracted to become tightly bonded to Jesus themselves as they come to see His amazing love for them. John the Baptist understood this principle very clearly and lived it most eloquently, possibly better than any other. He put it this way, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)

We are living in an age when wickedness prevails. The perils of the last days thicken around us, and because iniquity abounds, the love of many waxes cold. This need not be if all would come to Jesus, and confidingly and in faith trust in him. His meekness and his lowliness, cherished, will bring peace and rest and moral power to every soul.
The shortness of time is urged as an incentive for us to seek righteousness and to make Christ our friend. This is not the great motive. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus is attractive. He is full of love, mercy, and compassion. He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life. He says to you, I am the Lord thy God; walk with me, and I will fill thy path with light. Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, proposes to elevate to companionship with himself those who come to him with their burdens, their weaknesses, and their cares. He will make them his dear children, and finally give them an inheritance of more value than the empires of kings, a crown of glory richer than has ever decked the brow of the most exalted earthly monarch. {RH, August 2, 1881}


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