What’s Your Story?
[The man who was blind] answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not, I do not know: One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
Theologians have written thousands of books (some thrilling, some boring) about what happens when people trust in Christ and experience forgiveness. At that moment of conversion, their eternal address changes. All their sins are forgiven, and they become children of God. Guilt and shame are washed away by the unconditional love and acceptance of Almighty God.
Most of us, however, don’t grasp these magnificent truths until we’ve been a Christian and studied the Bible for a while. Even then, some aspects of the colossal transformation remain shrouded in mystery. They are simply too wonderful to grasp. Even from the first day we trust Christ, though, we know deep in our souls that something is different- very different.
One day, Jesus restored sight to a man who was born blind. The religious leaders questioned the man to find some reason to discount the miracle and to accuse Jesus of blasphemy. When they stated emphatically that Jesus was a sinner, the man must have laughed out loud. “There are some things I don’t know,” he told them, “but there’s one thing I’m sure of: I was blind, but now I can see. That’s enough for me.”
We are wise to plumb the depths of God’s truth to discover the different aspects of the incredible transformation we’ve experienced, but the deeper we go in our understanding, the more we realize that salvation is a genuine miracle of grace- a miracle that produces unmistakable and amazing changes in us from the inside out.
If you let yourself be absorbed completely, if you surrender completely to the moments as they pass, you will live more richly those moments.
It is said, and rightfully so, that word of mouth advertising is the best that can be done. There’s no better advocate of something than a satisfied customer. Companies spend millions of dollars training sales staff, making sure they know all the details and values of the product. They spend millions of dollars with advertising campaigns and buying time so they can get exposure. Each year corporations compete for space on Super Bowl Sunday and yet none of this effort has the effectiveness of a satisfied customer convincing their best friend that the product is a must-have.
Quite often the church attempts to use corporate strategies to try to attract new people. They develop programs, start ministries, create web sites, and the like and then wonder why they aren’t seeing a return for their efforts. In truth because that’s not the Jesus model for church. If we read His instructions again we will discover that He never told us to build buildings, create programs, and such. There isn’t any record of the Acts church doing such things. More than likely the church didn’t get interested in building until after the third century when Constantine who was the emperor of Rome became a Christian and incorporated Romanism into the church.
Please understand that I’m not speaking against buildings or programs or technology. They, too, are great tools that we can use for building up the kingdom of God. As a matter of fact when building the kingdom of God becomes our priority, we’ll discover that almost everything can be used as a tool. I’m sure that corporations won’t meet today and dissolve their sales force or remove their advertising and graphic design department. Neither should we discard any tool or any means to touch lives with the message of the Gospel.
But Christ’s plan was that we would each personally spread the word. It may be true of us that we don’t know everything about Christ or the gospel. We might not be like the salesperson who has had extensive training about the product. But if we are one of those who has used the product and found it to meet our need and expectation, then we are the true experts. In the story, the blind man didn’t know who Jesus was. When he was questioned as to whether Jesus was from God or not, he said he didn’t know. What he did know was that he had been blind and now he could see and it had been Jesus who made that happen. It’s evident from the story that the blind man wasn’t very knowledgeable of the theology of the Messiah. Perhaps he couldn’t quote the Old Testament prophecies or give a theological explanation of his healing. But he told his story and how Jesus had touched his life. And then when they keep asking him about Jesus, he asked them if they, too, were interested in becoming disciples. That’s the Jesus plan. We don’t have to know all the theology of the Bible, but we do have to have a experience and out of our experience we tell our story.
What makes word of mouth excel over any other form of advertising is that one who has benefited and who has actually used the product and goes to their friends to invite them to try it is the evidence of how it has affected them personally. Our effectiveness with “preaching the gospel” is tied directly to our experience with God. We may not be biblical experts, but we know how God has transformed us and we are convinced that He can do the same for others. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he told the crowd that the 120 believers had witnessed for themselves the life-changing power of Christ and now the multitude was witnessing God at work in
Imagine if you had bought a new piece of equipment that made your life so much easier and you began to tell your friend about it. Maybe they just responded with skepticism and disbelief. Wouldn’t you say to them, “Well, come over and see how it’s made my life easier. You can see it in action.” And once they saw how well it worked and how it helped, don’t you think they might be interested in getting one too?
Well that the power of telling our story. What do we really know about Christ? Only what we ourselves have experienced. The stories of others may convince us that God can but our experiences convinces us that God will.
The silence of the recipients of the goodness of God has led to a complete dependence on some form of advertising and as we all know that has little to no impact by itself. It’s time to tell our story. As the disciples would say, “We can’t help but to tell what we saw and what we heard,” and I would add what we have experienced. Before you try to convince somebody to go to church or even to become a Christian, shouldn’t you let them see how knowing Christ has benefited you personally? You see, if Christ in you hasn’t changed you to be different than those who don’t know Him, you probably won’t be very convincing. But if you are a blind man who now sees, the evidence of Christ can be seen in the change.
The final words of Jesus to the disciples and us are these:
“While being together and eating with them, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Of which,” He said, “you have heard Me speak. For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized empowered united with the Holy Spirit, not long from now.” But you will receive power ability when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be My witnesses [to tell people about Me] both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1: 4,5,8
In essence Christ said that we are to have an experience with God the Holy Spirit(wait for the promise), and then we are to tell our story (you will be My witnesses), locally, regionally, to those not in our circle, and to the whole world. What shall we tell? We will tell what Jesus has done in us- once I was blind, now I see. Anyone can, and everyone should and of the kingdom of God there shall be no end!
Dr. John Thompson