Preach Without Words
And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. Matthew 10:7-8 (ESV)
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Brennan Manning.
There is a saying among Christians – one I have been known to say myself – and that is mistakenly quoted as originating with St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.”
I have used this quote a few times. Not that I am excusing believers of the responsibility of professing Christ, but because I am frustrated and discouraged by ‘Christians’ who say ‘God Bless you’ to their waitress . . . and then leave a 50 cent tip, while they scurry towards their warm cars, casting a blind eye to the homeless person standing outside the restaurant. Nonbelievers see this. They make note of it. And I know this to be true as I have been told this to my face as well as by emails from those who have left the church.
So, we have a conundrum. The Gospel is to be proclaimed verbally as Jesus told us to ‘Proclaim The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Yet, when some of us use words that are not followed by Godly action, we are doing a disservice to His ministry.
I’m sorry if my quote of ‘Use words if necessary’ as offended or caused anyone to stumble. I just want us to be responsible and to follow through with what we profess. Look at the whole two verses... If the Kingdom is at hand, doesn't that mean that we are to be His hands and feet as well? Christ also told us to heal, raise, cast out and cleanse. Sounds kind of hands on to me.
So, let’s use both today. Let’s be kind, helpful and shining people who through our self-depreciating attitudes give us the right and the privilege to share Jesus with those we meet. My pastor calls this two-fisted evangelism. I like that. Profess with your mouth but hopefully you will be winded and breathless from working selflessly alongside people in their journey.
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