“Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’”
Some of us are familiar with the sayings, “You may be the only Bible some people ever read,” or “the only Jesus some people ever see.” That may be true. What is absolutely true is that a life, authentic and faith-filled, tells a powerful sermon. Why? Because that life supports the message of the gospel. It reflects belief that is genuine. Moreover, (and this is the point) it commends faith in Jesus to the observer. James tells us: “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?” (James 2:14). Faith without works (evidence) is not real. It’s a mirage.
But a problem arises when we create a false dualism. We mistakenly emphasize the life over the speech or speech over life. We might quote Francis Assisi, who allegedly said, “Preach the gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” Actually, he never said it. It’s a good thing too. Words are as important as deeds, especially as it pertains to the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.
People need to see your words in action. They need to know that what you believe is real. How real? Demonstrated in multiple ways and settings, revealing the love of God by your love for one another and your neighbors. That’s an important point.
Jesus said, “By your love for one another others will know that you are my disciples” (John 13:35). They’ll know because they’ll see it in action.
Show and Tell
So “showing” is as important as “telling.” We must live a “God-filled” life before an unbelieving “God-empty” world. But we must not neglect the telling. I’ve often thought about this, and felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit to seize every opportunity, instigated by Him, to speak up for Jesus, to share the message of the gospel. “…how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14b-15a). “And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?” (10:14a).
People need to hear the gospel as well as see it worked out in our everyday lives. They can’t hear it unless we tell them. Show and tell. Both are critical to our witness. We need to tell them our story because it’s God’s story; and it’s a life-changing story.
Peter put it this way: “…so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior (italics added) in Christ may be put to shame (that’s showing).” “…but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (italics added) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” (that’s telling) (1 Peter 3:16, 15).