by Calven Celliers
Deep inside each and every one of us is an awareness that we are on this planet for a purpose greater than just having a career, loving our families, and being upstanding citizens. You and I were made for a mission. God is at work in the world, and He wants us to join Him. Our mission as believers is a continuation of Jesus’ mission on earth. Former pastor of Willow Creek Community Church Bill Hybels is quoted as having once said, “God wants us to become contagious Christians – His agents, who will first catch His love and then infectiously offer it to all who are willing to consider it. This is His primary plan, the one Jesus modelled so powerfully, to spread God’s grace and truth person to person until there’s an epidemic of changed lives around the world.”
I remember when I was growing up, we were frequently taught that we as believers needed to share our faith with others. Though the prospect of “cold turkey” evangelism could be scary, we were told to do it because God had commanded it and because it pleased Him. I’m probably guilty of even preaching this myself from time to time. But how’s this for a different take on the matter; Evangelism is something we do because of who we are.
As believers in Jesus Christ, you and I have been reconciled to God through Christ’s death on the cross. We are now his agents of reconciliation, ambassadors for Christ, who are carrying out his mission in the world. Jesus said in the Gospel of Luke,
“16 No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a bowl or hides it under a bed. A lamp is placed on a stand, where its light can be seen by all who enter the house.” (Luke 8:16NLT)
The truth is, many Christians feel intimidated when we read a verse like this one from the Gospel of Luke. You might picture a pastor preaching the Good News or a missionary spreading the Word of God far and wide, but you don’t feel qualified to do the same. Let me assure you, words can be a powerful and effective way of communicating the message of the Gospels, but preaching or talking about our faith aren’t the only ways to convey the Good News.
Many believe that St. Francis of Assisi is purported to have said, “Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Upon closer investigation, however, I was surprised to discover that he did not, in fact, say this. At least not as far as we know. However, the saint’s actual words were far more nuanced: “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.”
Look closely at the language in today’s verse: “…its light can be seen by all…” Jesus is telling us that our actions – what others see – can be just as powerful and impactful as what they might hear from us. The Holy Spirit lives in each one of us, and our role is to shine the light of the Spirit brightly through our words and our actions so that others may recognize Jesus and be inspired and encouraged to then shine their own light of the Holy Spirit on someone else. We earn the right to be heard by loving people unconditionally and giving self-sacrificially. We are Christ’s presence on earth. When people meet you, they are meeting Christ, because you are His representative, His presence in the world. Some people wonder what they should say or whether they need to memorize a speech to share their faith. But the best way to evangelize is to simply tell others what God has done for you and what He means to you. The transformation Christ has accomplished in your life is the best testimony you can share concerning the truth of the Gospel.
Today, let’s take a moment to think about one small way in which we can let the light of the Holy Spirit shine out from us to illuminate the way for someone else. I pray that God will give you opportunities each and every day to share your faith with others. And when you do, I pray that He will give you the words to say that will draw others to Himself. Finally, I pray that the Spirit will be preparing the hearts of those you will encounter today.
Let your walking be your preaching…