In Skeptics this evening, we discussed how Christians can go out into the world to spread the Good News in a loving way instead of being obnoxious.
Our new youth pastor, Brandon, showed us different pictures of so-called “Christians” (I put quotes around it, because some of the pictures showed only self-proclaimed Christians, and are anything but). He asked us after showing each one whether or not the subject Christian (or Christian sign) was being loving or obnoxious.
There was a similarity with both the obnoxious ones and the loving ones that struck me early on.
One extreme example was the Westboro Baptists who descend upon funerals to proclaim those who died deserved it and would go to Hell — for whatever reason. The other extreme showed a picture of Mother Theresa feeding a hungry child.
In short, the obnoxious ones yelled, screamed and threw out platitudes. A very defensive posture (and unfortunately one I’ve taken trying to defend my own faith).
The loving ones whispered with actions, but those actions whispered so much louder than any words they could have spoken or yelled.
A common complaint I found from many non-Christians to Christians is, “Don’t tell me I’m a sinner. Don’t tell me I’m going to hell.” I should have seen it sooner, but I was so busy trying to defend my faith and my Christianity, I was missing God’s own whispers through their voices. The one phrase they kept saying is “don’t tell me.”
Writers know this refrain well: When writing, show, don’t tell.
This is equally true for Christians.
James 2:14-26 says it all (it’s a bit long, but well worth reading the whole thing):
What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’ — but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?
So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.
Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have any good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
You say you have faith, for you believe there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this and they tremble in terror. How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?
Don’t you remember that our ancestor, Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.
Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.”
I noted in a previous entry that Jesus said, “Let him with ears, let him hear.” In no Scripture that I’ve found did he proclaim, “Let those with mouths let them speak.” More often than not, we must keep our mouth shut, and whisper loudly instead with our actions, because that’s the best and clearest way people will hear Jesus’ message.
While I may show well with my writing, I need to apply the same with my life day by day — to act and show instead of merely speaking.