Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Little Word "Word"

Yesterday I went to hear a talk about sharing your faith in the workplace. Two speakers. Each of them emphasized that the workplace was a mission field (good). And they both also emphasized that you don't have to beat people over the head with a Bible (that of course is a warn out straw-man, but let it pass). They both said we should let our lives and our demeanor be our message. And one of them repeated the alleged St. Francis quote, "Preach the Gospel always, and if necessary use words."

About that quote . . .

I'll admit that the first time I heard it I was beguiled. "Hey, yeah [that's what I say when I'm beguiled], it's really that easy!"

Now I think someone ought to take that quote out behind the barn and shoot it. Would somebody do that please?

Here's the thing. "Preach the gospel" really does mean "use words." When Acts 8:40 says, "But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea," do you think Philip was just loving people and sharing his life, etc. Or was he SAYING SOMETHING? [Sorry about the caps; I get excited sometimes, and exclamation points just aren't enough.]

When Paul advises Timothy, "preach the word," well that little word "word" is a dead give away.

And when Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, "and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else's foundation," it's clear that the Gospel is a form of naming the name of Christ.

Here's the point. I know pagans who are really nice loving folks (that's right, really I do!). Being a nice guy just ain't enough. And anyway there are days when I'm not so nice (yeah, really).

The thing is, being nice makes it all about me. Naming Christ makes it all about Him. It is an altogether harder thing to do, apparently, and that's why we keep telling ourselves we don't really have to do it!

I once heard a man say, "After all, the Gospel isn't about words, it's about lovin' on people!"


One more thing. About that old straw man, "You don't have to beat people over the head with a Bible." Ummm, I just think there's some space to maneuver in between the two poles of "it's not about words," and "have Bible, will thrash." Just a little. Maybe.

Someday I'm going to hear a talk about sharing the Gospel in the workplace "without words," and I'm going to rise impertinently to address the speaker. "HEY, YOU WITH THE MICROPHONE! Would you mind sharing this message of yours without using words? I'm feeling kind of punky and can use some quiet time. Thanks ever so much."


Bill said...


Great post. I was (and continue to be) convicted by this exact issue yesterday.

And then you wrote this. I think this is a message I need to hear (and act on)

Nate said...

Plus, I think some people DO need to be beaten over the head with a Bible. Just my opinion.


Bob Spencer said...

heh . . . mostly the Christians, yes.

Milton Stanley said...

Good word, Bob. I agree, and I linked to your post today. Peace.

Rick Blake said...

Bob, I love this post.
It is refreshingly clear.

Anonymous said...

lots of room in between, but, i think it is both.

here is the recipe...
"the word" and "lovin on people" into a big ole blender.
press frozen drinks and shakes.
pour it out.

serves: more than you can imagine.

Anonymous said...

to read

Bob Spencer said...

Nancy, I love your recipe above. That's the way I'm mixin' it from now on!

Terry Laudett said...

One of your readers alerted me to this post after I had written something similar last night. I see why she thought she was reading your words. We have very similar thoughts on this.