6th November 2011


“Each one of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.”
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV UK)

Talk to 10 people on the street and you’re likely find 10 different opinions about who God is, what God is like, how God deals with human beings and what God expects of us.

Surveys have shown that even among Christians, ideas about Jesus, grace, sin, forgiveness, faith, repentance, obedience, etc., vary widely. How much more do ideas about Jesus vary among non-Christians?

Suppose I approach a stranger in a coffee shop and ask him if he knows Jesus. What comes into his mind? Is his idea of Jesus that of a melancholy-eyed weakling as Jesus has often been depicted in art? When he was young did the stranger’s parents tell him that Jesus hated jazz, cards, beer and Catholics? Maybe his neighbours are Christians who won’t let their kids play with his kids.

With that background, how would this stranger be inclined to feel about my question, and about me? He would probably be annoyed, and his already-negative impression of Christians and of Christ would be substantiated. And all because I assumed that God doesn’t really care how we spread the gospel, as long as we do it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 points out that there is “a time for everything, a season for every activity under heaven.” Among these are “a time to plant and a time to harvest” and “a time to be quiet and a time to speak up.”

According to legend, Francis of Assisi once said, “Always preach the gospel. If necessary, use words.” People are not attracted to uninvited strangers who invade their space, but to those who have proven they care, people whose lives reflect the love of God. In Colossians 4:5-6, the apostle Paul wrote, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

When a person is curious about our Christian hope because we live as though Christ is the Lord of our life, then that person has a more accurate perspective of Jesus because he or she has seen Jesus in us.

God has richly blessed us with active parts in his work of building up the body of Christ, the church, and reaching out with the gospel to nonbelievers. The greatest tool he has given us is his own life, ministered to us by the Holy Spirit and reflected in the way we live. It is Christ in us being reflected to others with his grace and kindness that makes our witness to the gospel attractive.

Holy Father, thank you for the job you have called us to, to participate in your work of reconciliation, in asking us to reach out to unbelievers. We only dare do this because of Christ’s indwelling presence through the Holy Spirit. We seek your help daily, accurately to reflect Christ in us to those with whom we come into contact. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by Joseph Tkach

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