So Paul, the great apostle, is doing God’s work in a town called Philippi. He’s beaten, put in chains, and run out of town for talking about Jesus and messing up a local slave owner’s business. He goes to Thessalonica and hides out quietly without a whimper.
NO!!! That might be my story if I’d been there, but not Paul!!
Instead, he says , 1 Thessalonians 2:2 …we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. WHO DOES THAT ? WHO GETS BEATEN, CHAINED, AND RUN OUT OF TOWN FOR PREACHING AND KEEPS ON PREACHING!?!?!???
And yet today, in America, still the freest place on earth, many Christians rarely, if ever, share their faith.
Not only that, there are a whole slew of Christians who would characterize their lack of sharing their faith this way: “Well you know, Saint Francis of Assisi said ‘Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.'”
And what they really mean is, “I don’t ever have to have a verbal witness, ever. My life is a witness. I “love them until they ask me why.” Problem is, that usually translates into, “They never ask me why so I never, ever, ever, ever have to give a verbal witness.”
First thing – Saint Francis of Assisi – never said that. EVER.
No record in his writings.
No record from his biographers.
No record from his followers.
No record anywhere. Except the internet.
But it’s like Abraham Lincoln said, “The thing about quotes on the internet is, you cannot confirm their validity.” Abe was so wise!
Second thing – that quote (Francis’), was completely contrary to how he lived his life. While his name was “Francis” and his town “Assisi,” which sounds and awful lot like “Francis, a sissy“, Francis was anything but. He was a bold and bad and tough (might be embellishing a bit on the bad/tough) and a faithful witness.
One of his biographers said Francis would preach sometimes in five villages a day, often outdoors, standing on a box, a door step, even a bale of hay, to whoever would listen. “He preached to . . . any who gathered to hear the (I love this part) strange but fiery little preacher from Assisi.” I’d love to be called that! “Strange but fiery.” What a great moniker!
Francis gave a bold and faithful verbal witness. Paul gave a bold and faithful verbal witness. Jesus who lived a perfect, sinless life STILL had to speak and give a verbal witness for people to understand.
The good news is inherently verbal. Romans 10:14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
Everyone preaches something. Everyone.
Jesus, Paul, Francis preached. Satan preached in the garden. You and I are preaching every day of our lives.
The question is this: What are we preaching?
Is it the latest entertainment? The hippest clothes? The most recent gossip? Who’s winning the Voice? Kelly and Michael’s great split? Or the great King we serve?
The question is simply – what is your message? And down with the generic God talk OK (click link)? Everyone does the generic God talk. Buddhists, Muslims, everyone. What got Paul in trouble was talking about Jesus. Because Satan hates that. Bring on the hate. Name the name of Jesus.
Let’s get about being a faithful witness with our mouths. Sure it’s a lifestyle witness too, but since we’re already preaching everyday about something, let’s preach about Jesus.
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