A Musing about Relationships
I was recently reading some fun fiction. It was a crime fighting “who done it” kind of novel. One of the main characters was a former President who talked about how boring his life was now that all he did was go around giving the same speech at events where he was invited to present. He mused that he knew his Secret Service had to be as sick of hearing the same speech as he certainly was of giving it.
In real life lots of folks who are on the speaking tour have one or two canned speeches they always use. Similarly, preachers who fill pulpits for pastors on vacation usually have one or two sermons they often use when filling a pulpit. They sometimes jokingly refer to these sermons as their greatest hits. Likewise, some folks who give the same presentation to help solicit funds for their work or organization sometimes call this “singing for your supper."
I am not being critical in anyway of these activities. It makes sense for folks in these situations to do these things. Using the same material is efficient and as they say, if it works then there is no reason to “reinvent the wheel.”
However, as I read the gospels, I notice Jesus is continually changing the stories he shares. He does not have a canned speech he takes and reuses every time he enters a new community. Now I am not saying throughout his ministry Jesus did not use some of the same stories or parables, but it seems clear that before he spoke to folks our Lord took the time to get to know the people he was speaking to and then shared with them what those individuals or communities needed to hear. And while the stories he told are universal and still speak to us today, it seems Jesus was very particular in what he shared to whom.
As I mentioned earlier to do this Jesus had to build relationship with folks. And to make that happen he had to take time to listen to those he encountered. He listened to their concerns and worries and pains and struggles. He listened to joys and dreams and hopes. Then after hearing this, he shared words that told of the good news of the Kingdom of God that he was offering.
Jesus looked into the eyes of those he spoke with, he held hands, shared meals, wiped tears and offered love and forgiveness. Thank goodness Jesus was not singing for his supper or offering up just the greatest hits because the gospels might only include The Beatitudes and The Good Samaritan.
There is a lesson for you and me in this. We too need to build relationship as we seek to share the good news and then share that part of our story that we believe will speak to them.
Making friendships and sharing our stories is the most effective evangelism tool that I know.
Certainly, advertising and promotions and social media and news releases all get our name out into the community, but we are not called to simply promote our church. We are called to make disciples.
In a Presidential Campaign several years ago, the campaign director had installed a couple of big signs in the campaign headquarters saying – “It’s all about the Economy.” It was meant to remind everyone what their theme and emphasis was for the campaign.
If I were to make a sign for you and me about growing the church and sharing the gospel it would say – “It’s all about relationships.”
Your stories of faith are very important. Sharing your own personal stories of faith that point to and reflect the presence of Jesus and the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives are what will bring people to the community of faith.
And what is truly amazing is that almost any experience has the potential to become part of our faith story. In fact, our entire life is the material that we can use to reflect the different ways God has been alive in our life. And all of these stories point to our corporate story - the belief in God’s promised day.
Friends, all of us are invited to participate in the experience of faith sharing. So, take time to build relationships as you continue your faith journey. And as you share it with others, we all grow in our faith.
Have a great week.