When many of us think of an evangelist, we think of someone who has much more personality or knowledge of the Bible than us. An evangelist is a someone who has great faith, much more than ordinary folks like us. Or, at least, that is what we imagine. The truth is that evangelists are ordinary people who seek to do what God wants everyone to do. God wants us to share our faith with others so that they might find their own faith in Jesus. We tell others how faith shapes and informs our lives so that they can be open to the possibility of faith in their own life. It is like sharing the insider information for life. We go to those around us to find service providers, such as mechanics and hair dressers, so we do the same thing with something much more important.
St. Patrick’s Day is known for the joyous celebration of Irish heritage, green beer, and leprechauns. Yet, if we take the time to look up St. Patrick, we find someone who went from a wealthy family to being kidnapped. He was forced to be a slave in Ireland. While a slave, he heard God calling him to flee Ireland. Eventually, he went back to Ireland to share his faith with the people. The place of his enslavement was also the place where he reached out to others. Many accounts paint him as an ordinary person, although we don’t know much about him. We think that he probably died on March 17, so we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on that day.
We learn from him that no matter what our background, God can use us. We are all called to share our faith. God can use each one of us, but we have to open ourselves to God’s call on our lives. As we move through the season of Lent, I wonder what God is calling you to do. It may be that God is calling you to invite friends and family to worship with you on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It can be about more than eggs and bunnies. It can be an opportunity to share faith. St. Patrick used ordinary items to share faith. What will you use?
A wink is a type of gesture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We spend a lot of time not saying what we are thinking or feeling. We exert energy in the repeated eye-rolls. We tap our foot in restlessness. We smirk. We twirl our hair. We bite our finger nails. We cross our arms and tense our shoulders. We also spend a lot of time not saying what we are thinking or feeling in other ways. We smile. We look directly into another person’s eyes. We lean forward when someone is speaking. We touch an arm or shoulder. We allow the unshed tears to be visible in our eyes. We cry. We hug. We wave.
While we may not be saying any words, we are definitely communicating. Peter Drucker says, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.” What are you communicating as you go through your daily life? Are you communicating your aggravation with your current situation, your desire to be anywhere else? Are you showing up mentally as well as physically? Do you ignore the other customers as you shop, or do you acknowledge their existence and value?
As disciples of Christ, what message are we sending? Are we sending a message that we love other people? Are we sending a message that we value other people? Take the time to consider your non-verbal communication this week because other people are listening to what you aren’t saying.
This afternoon I watched a woman driving. She was in a hurry, or so it seemed. She and I were both leaving an apartment complex. We were both turning left, and she was behind me. She was disappointed at my hesitation in pulling out to traffic. She was so hurried, she went around me, turning left from the right turning lane. My first thought was relief that we did not end up in an accident. Since we were headed in the same direction, and we both exited the complex at the same time, there was time to watch her. She was in a rush whipping back and forth between lanes. she turned into the grocery store parking lot, and i wondered why she was so frantic to get to the grocery store. Was she rushing to get to work? Was she late meeting someone? Did she have a craving so intense that it left her half-crazed?
I will never know the rest of her story, but she made me aware that all of us are being watched. She probably did not think about my opinion of her frantic rushing. She did probably consider my driving skills inadequate, but I imagine whatever was causing the rush was taken a much higher priority that what others thought about her behavior. We are all like this woman, in some way. We become so focused on getting from here to there that we miss everything around us. We overlook the splendor of God’s creation, and we overlook the fact that our lives our saying a lot about us. Our lives are testifying to what we believe about God, ourselves, and others.
People are watching us all of the time, and we are not aware that we are being watched. We are rushing to do what we think is important, but we may be missing the important things. We may be so busy with the check list, cravings, or other things that fill our days that we miss evaluating what others are seeing. Are we living what we believe? Are we loving other people? Are we honoring God.
Remember, you are being watched.
Iced tea, popular throughout the U.S. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I am an iced tea fan, especially good, sweet, tea on hot summer days. My local Sheetz must have sensed this iced tea craving that I have. They want me to d
rink their iced tea. In fact, they sent me a card so that I can drink their iced tea for a month. The tea is free, but I have to go through the drive-thru. A large iced tea before tax is a $1.45, so I am now a regular at Sheetz. I am fairly certain that this may have something to do with the fact that most of us are unaware that this particular Sheetz has a drive-thru. I am also certain that the gift card has to do with the fact that they have just opened a new location in my neighborhood. But, I like to imagine that they just want me to enjoy one of my favorite beverages. Brewed tea is always better than instant, but my family does not drink the stuff.
On one of my daily visits to Sheetz, I learned something new. If you are sitting at the drive-thru window, the staff person with the drive-thru headphones can hear you. I learned this because the woman at the window asked about what I was listening to in my car. I turned it off when I talked with her, but when she was away from the window, I turned it back on. She could hear my listening choice. She was polite when asking, and I did not mind telling her that I was listening t a podcast from Floris United Methodist Church. This lead me to think about how many times we are overheard.
We are overheard at drive-thru windows, but we are also overheard in public restrooms. How many of us have not heard the mom or grandmother discussing bodily functions and hygiene with a small child in the bathroom? We are also overheard in restaurants. We are heard when walking and talking with family and friends.
What do people hear when you are around? Do they hear wisdom? The person at Sheetz heard about Deborah, an Old Testament prophet. Do they hear judgment or commentary about those around you? Many of us have heard a person share the intimate details about a relationship including where the other person in the relationship falls short. Do they hear love or frustration? Dawdling in the restroom is standard behavior for many children. Caregivers deal with this in different ways, and the statement, “Have you finished?” can be said in a wide variety of tones.
Take care with how you sound because others are listening. What you say and what you omit into the world around you can have an impact.
"Having his hair cut" - Emma hears that Frank Churchill goes all the way to London to have his hair cut and is surprised. Austen, Jane. Emma. London: George Allen, 1898. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We are called to share our faith with the world, but I wonder if I am actually doing that sometimes. Do people feel that I am approachable enough of they have questions about faith? Do they know that my faith makes a difference in my life?
Recently my hair stylist said that he could not believe he was talking to a pastor the way he was talking to me. He was sharing about his life, which is very different from mine. I was excited that he felt comfortable enough to talk to me. We talk about lots of things. We talk about my work. He has asked about my call into ministry.
Each time I make an appointment, I am making an appointment not just to take care of me, but I am making an appointment with a beloved child of God. I am making an appointment with someone who is curious about faith. I am making a conscious effort to share God. When you make an appointment, whether for personal grooming, medical services, or car repair, remember that this person is more than a service provider. This person is a child of god. You haven appointment. It just for service, but you have an appointment to share Your faith.
Image via Wikipedia
My family is a basketball family. People in the family play basketball. We have favorite college teams. One of the bonding experiences is who will win the family March Madness brackets. With all of this basketball, you would think that we would pay attention to the NBA. We don’t.
However, I have heard of Jeremy Lin. Most of us know his story. He is a player that was almost cut from the Knicks. Now, he is an industry, and he can play ball. He is also a Christian. He is living out his faith and surprising everyone with playing basketball. People are noticing. He witnesses to his faith in many ways including a unique pre-game handshake with Landry Fields. He acknowledges God in interviews. He openly talks about God, miracles and faith.
While his athletic prowess gives him a much larger audience than most of us, I wonder if we are as vocal about our faith as he is. Do you acknowledge your relationship with God as freely and openly? Do you have non-verbal cues to the world around you about your relationship with God? Do you wear a cross? Do you say, “Praise God” when you hear about someone receiving a blessing? Do you pray before meals? During this Lent, maybe we need to have a more vocal faith. We won’t have as wide an impact as Jeremy Lin, but we may impact our corner of the world. We may have an impact on just one life, but that one life would be worth it.
Last night I was sitting in a meeting. There was a rumble. The ground shook. Everyone looked around the table. No one said anything. I asked, “Was that an earthquake?” Another person replied, “No, it was a truck passing by.” We continued on with our discussion. Later we found out that it was a 3.2 earthquake. We had dismissed it because the chances of an earthquake occuring was less likely that a large truck driving by on the road outside our building. While an earthquake is unlikely, it is not impossible here. We have had 86 aftershocks since a 5.9 that was felt along most of the east coast of the United States.
Most of us go to the most probable answer in our minds for most things. Yet, automatically assuming the most probable conclusion leaves our many possibilities. We assume that the people around in t he grocery store line do not want to be bothered, so we don’t try to establish a relationship. We assume that non one wants to hear about how God has been working in our lives, so we just keep it to ourselves. We figure that everyone knows that we are thankful for the life God has given us, so we say nothing during the sharing of joys in our worship. We figure that there are other people who are more eloquent at sharing God’s love, so we leave it to the experts. We miss possible opportunities all of the time.
Next time, take the chance that God can work in a situation even if it is not probable in your mind. God can cause earthquakes in central Virginia. God can use inadequate people like us to reach out to others, to tell the story of God’s love, to inspire others, and to encourage others in their faith. God can shake up the world around us, sometimes even through us. Take the unexpected opportunity.