Occasional thoughts from a young adult reveling in the messiness of life.
Uh oh – I used the “E” word. Before you all shudder and run screaming from this post, hear me out. I had an interesting thought today as the quote, typically attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, popped into my head:
“Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.”
This saying is something that I have heard quoted time and again about how we should be evangelizing (particularly in my young adult circles). I’ve even quoted it a few times, myself, when the topic of evangelism has popped up. It’s a beautiful concept that I couldn’t agree with more.
However, I’m going to go out on a limb and call this one like I see it – it’s too often used as a copout for us Christians.
It’s not that the sentiment isn’t good. I believe that we should be living and breathing examples of the gospel at all times, and I believe that actions do speak louder than words. But instead of using this saying as an impetus for making real, physical, actionable changes in our lives, we Christians tend to lean on it as an excuse to not be verbal with our faith and in sharing the Good News.
I know this because I am one of those Christians.
Instead of sharing my faith with my words, I have thought it enough to try to live a good life and be nice to people. But I have not–and I would venture to guess that most of us have not–done a really good job of actually being a living example of the gospel.
If we were really good at preaching the gospel with our actions, we would reach our hands out in love when we are surrounded by hate. We would be more active in serving those in need, sharing our bounty with those who have less. We would invite our enemies into a space for reconciliation instead of keeping them at bay (or worse). We would not be so quick to point out the sins of others as we glaze over our own ever-present sinfulness.
But that’s just not the case.
Most days, I can’t tell Christians from non-Christians by their actions alone, and when I look at my own life, I must admit that the same can be said of me.
So until we get SO good at preaching the gospel with our actions that the message is unmistakable, we need to do a lot more preaching with our words.
Who’s with me?