words

For me, the dread word “evangelism” can quickly lead to a case of the heebee-geebees.  I have memories of knocking on doors, preparing 30-second versions of my conversion on 3×5 cards, and the hardest, (in my humble opinion), tracts.  “Let’s go witnessing” was the invitation that left me cold and cringing, awkwardly fishing for excuses as to why I just couldn’t do that tonight.

It was scary stuff.

For too many years this was my only view of evangelism.  It was about words – telling someone something.

I’m not degrading the importance of words.  It is simply that for years, my understanding of “sharing the gospel” had exclusively to do with words:  saying the right things, telling people about sin and Jesus’ death and forgiveness and heaven and the sinner’s prayer.

Words.

And I was terrible at it.

I was afraid to approach people on the street, in airplanes, the grocery store, school and start talking about Jesus.  Brutally honest?  When I did summon the necessary courage, I mostly ended up talking about church.

Have you been there, or am I the only one?  My pride and a slightly-underdeveloped spidey-sense tell me it’s not just me.

But the good news is this:  sharing Jesus is more than words.  A world remains outside our church needing to know the God who loves them beyond imaginations, to see as well as hear about Jesus.  We, Christ’s body, can rediscover that fully sharing the Gospel includes speaking the hope of Jesus, but more importantly, it means the giving of our lives to those God loves.  It has been said, “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

What a statement when Christians in business hold themselves to the highest ethical standards; when teachers are known for the love they have toward students; when we stand against child slavery, ethnic cleansing, and the destruction of God’s created beauty; when we honor the poor; when our “friends without homes” are fed; when life is sacred from conception to death; when the stranger and enemy become, like the story of the good Samaritan, our neighbor.

There’s something powerful about letting the Gospel permeate us so completely that our actions preach more than our words.

Matthew puts it like this:  “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (5:16)

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2 responses to “words

  1. Well, the truth is that it takes both. Words and a life to back it. Not one without the other.
    May you be blessed as you go out,
    Richard

  2. Thanks, Richard

    While I acknowledge that you’re quite correct in this (for how will they know unless we tell them), too many people cannot hear our words because our actions are speaking too loudly – and harming the words of Life, the gospel of Jesus. Words must accompany our actions, but good actions must precede them, at least most of the time in western culture. The point I was trying to make was that for too many of us, “witnessing” or “outreach” is not complete without pushing for someone to make a decision, hoping for a conversion. This is messed-up thinking of the term “witness”. Scripture plainly tells us that, first of all, the world will know we follow Jesus by the way we treat our own (how badly we’ve screwed that up!); second, it tells us to live our lives in such a way (this implies action) that people will see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. We’ve too often gotten that backwards as a Church, preferring to preach with words before reaching with action. God’s best to you too, as you follow Jesus!

    Josh

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