Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Being Different Part IV-- Hoarse Voice

There's an old joke: "what do you get when you cross a Jehovah's Witness and a Presbyterian? Someone who will knock on any door, but if it opens, has nothing to say." Or perhaps you've heard the famous line about Walter Mondale, who was said to have a peculiarly dull charisma that was a cross between a Presbyterian parson and a tree.
We don't speak the name of Jesus; it is tacky. Certainly, we do not speak and use "Jesus" and the second person familiar pronoun in public, even in prayer. That is beyond tacky; that is vulgar to Presbyterian ears. Vulgar after all means, "of the lower classes;" so many who now claim the name of Presbyterian have spent their lives running from or seeking to avoid such a dire fate as to be identified with the many.
Our hands are so clean because our mouths are so shut; we will not witness. But the passion that the living Christ instills in human hearts makes it impossible to be silent. The passion that Christ brings to life makes it impossible to live behind the barbed-wire fences of race, class, and lifestyle.
Who knows the hope that is within you? How many times have you had an opportunity to share that hope, and have decided that "it wouldn't be prudent"? How many people have you thought you were witnessing to when you said to them, "come to church with me"? The average person out in the world is no longer interested in crossing the threshold of a sanctuary; they want to know the Gospel from YOU. What do you believe? Who is Jesus? Why did He come? Why did He die? Where can I read about what you've told me?
There is a lot of explaining that needs to be done right now-- and you are the only person that your neighbor/coworker/friend is talking to. We need to be able to meet that need-- and no number of anonymous good deeds can take the place of those spoken words. Witnessing is not an optional practice that is too "vulgar" or "tacky" for us to do. It is the baseline expectation of every believer, and if we do not wish to stand speechless before a world that has tired of our dull charisma, we have to learn to talk about Jesus till our voices grow hoarse from declaring His praises, and sharing His love.

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