LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK FOR CHRIST
What is our desire as we step into the ministry? There can be many answers to this question. Some common ones are: I want to be an excellent orator/preacher; I want to be a powerful healer/evangelist; I want to pastor and build the biggest church in my city/ state/ country, and the list can go on and on. I would not blame anyone for such thoughts. We all want to do great service for the LORD, but little do we realise that “Big things come in small packages.” We all want/ desire to be a successful Pastor/ great evangelist/ extraordinary healer. But rarely do we have the desire to become a better father/ mother/ brother/ sister/ colleague/ friend/ person.
Most of our conceptions about the ministry are linked to the ‘Great Commission’ that Jesus gave to His disciples. The one word that is hammered (I use this term for the lack of a better word) again and again in our minds is ‘preach’. However, our LORD is asking us to do more than just preach the Gospel; He calls us to live it out. Let’s turn our Bibles to the Great Commission of our LORD as cited in the gospel according to Matthew 28: 18 - 20: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I would like to draw your attention to a key phrase in this passage; a phrase that we have heard so often that it has become like a cliché - “Go and make disciples.” Hey, that’s something more than just preaching the Gospel. It means a life-time of commitment to shape and develop a life according to the will of God. It is something like what happened in the earlier days in the Gurukul. In the Gurukul, young boys (probably of 3-5 years) came in and they were trained under the Guru, learning from his words and everyday life; they stepped out after many years as young men (probably of 20 - 25 yrs) fully equipped for the challenges life placed before them. This is what our LORD is calling us to do; not just to preach the Gospel, but to live the Gospel in our lives. It is not a one-time choice, but a life-time commitment. Many of us then will have the question, how can we do that? Let’s look at another portion of the Scripture, i.e., Colossians 3: 5 - 17 to see how we can achieve our goal of living the Gospel.
In this passage we are given a list of Do’s and Don’ts for the Christian life.
- Put to death your earthly nature, i. e., sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed (v. 5)
- Get rid of anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips (v. 8)
- Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience (v. 12)
- Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another (v. 13)
- Put on love, which binds all the good virtues together in perfect unity (v. 14)
- Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, for you were called to peace. And be thankful (v. 15)
- Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom (v. 16)
- Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (v. 17)
- Do not lie to each other (v. 9)
As the disciples of Christ Jesus, we are called to get rid of all immorality and impurities in our lives and to clothe ourselves with kindness, compassion, humility, patience, tolerance and so on. And we are called not to lie to each other and leave behind our old life with all its evils. Hey, but isn’t this just the opposite of what is in our life and community? No wonder, we have such a struggle leading someone to Christ. Martin Luther, the Father of the Protestant Reformation, understood this very rightly and therefore he articulated, “The world does not need a definition of religion, but a demonstration.” Many-a-times we do just the opposite of that; we try to give the world a definition of Christianity, rather than trying to demonstrate it/live it out in our day-to-day lives.
Two business executives were rushing off to catch a train as they had to attend an important conference. In doing so, they unintentionally tripped over a basket of fruit belonging to a little girl who used to sit everyday on the railway platform to earn a living, selling fruits. They were in such a hurry that they did not pay attention to what had happened and took their seats on the train, which was seconds away from its departure. Then something unusual happened: one of the executives got off the train with his luggage and walked to the little girl. He kept aside his baggage and knelt down besides the girl and helped her to pick up the fruits that they had tripped over. When he had done that, he turned back to catch the train, when he felt a tug on his sleeve. The little girl was standing there with a question for him, “Are you Jesus? For no one else would have done what you have done for me today.” This little girl was blind and the kindness that this executive showed to her persuaded her to think that he was Jesus. That is what a demonstration of Christianity does.
I am sure that because of this incident that little girl would definitely have accepted Jesus as her Saviour in her life. Someone very rightly said, “It only takes a moment to be kind, but the result can last forever”. Mother Teresa was a classic example of this; through her life and action she has impacted, shaped and led so many to the feet of her LORD. That exactly has to be our aim, my friends.
Gandhiji said that he did not accept Jesus as his Saviour because he did not find Him in the lives of the Christians. Is this what people cite as a reason even today? In the suburbs of India lived a preacher who was very knowledgeable and apt in his oratory skills. Sunday to Sunday he would string wonderful beads of truth from the Bible before the people. But deep inside, he had a fatal flaw; he was not able to live a life appropriate for a servant of God and even had an illegitimate relationship with one of the female members in his parish. One fine day he was trying to convince an young man to accept Jesus as his Saviour and this is the response that he got, “Your life speaks so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.” This young man failed to see the Jesus that the preacher talked about, in the preacher’s life and so he did not accept Jesus as his Saviour. Are people failing to see Christ in our lives even today? Maybe because He’s really missing from our lives. We have left Him, and are trying to minister to the world. As we enter into the ministry and continue to minister to the world, my friends, “Let your lips speak for Christ, but let not your life be silent.”