Recently I was asked to take a survey. What I found interesting was not so much the topic of the survey, but rather the questions asking what would influence my behaviour regarding the topic. Would reading books or articles incline me towards deeper involvement? Would watching videos or listening to speakers be an effective way convince me to join in? I truthfully answered these things would moderately alter my behaviour. But when the survey asked if being invited to participate with others in the activity would influence me, I had to answer most definitely yes.
I couldn’t help but think of Andrew when he told Peter about Jesus and Peter just scoffed. Instead of arguing, Andrew said “come and see.” And Peter did, and saw someone he wanted to follow.
I was presented a gold New Testament by the Gideons in grade seven. I kept it for years, but I don’t recall ever reading it, which was probably just as well since I had no one to explain what was inside. Years later, I met someone who greeted me as though I was the most important person to her in that moment. Bethany was different and I wanted to know why. She was the first Gospel I understood despite my years of church attendance. Because of her, I went and saw.
Unlike Bethany, I usually greet people with the restraint and suspicion which comes from my British background. Even so, I have been involved in a number of secular activities over the years and have been asked more than once if I was a Christian. Apparently, there was something more in me enabling others to see past the coolness of my greeting.
I’ve realized over the years, the Gospel is not a collection of words trapped on paper, the Gospel is alive. Despite my sinfulness, the Gospel flows through me and anyone else who strives to live and die according to teachings of Jesus Christ.
Written or spoken words may provide knowledge but knowledge does not equate to understanding. St. Paul was a pharisee who had spent his life studying the Jewish scriptures. He knew them inside out and backwards but had no understanding of their true meaning. Even though the Jewish scriptures are all about a coming saviour, Paul did not equate them with Christ until he met the risen Lord on the road to Damascus. His eyes were opened and he could finally comprehend the scriptures in the light of Christ and His people. Paul then spent fifteen or so years reassessing his understanding of scripture before beginning his ministry. Along with others who joined the Body of Christ, Paul became an embodiment of Gospel of Jesus Christ years before anything was written down.
Even those who faithfully followed Christ for three years did not recognize Him as the fulfillment of the scriptures. They had their “Ah ha” moment after His resurrection when the scriptures finally made sense as they recognized the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
I am a member of the living Body of Christ as are all those who follow Christ. As such, I have to realize I am the Gospel to the world, what I do or say matters since I may be the only gospel someone may ‘read’. Am I perceived as loving or judgmental? Do I draw people to Christ or scare them away? Do people see me and think, ‘if that’s Christianity then I don’t want anything to do with it’ or do they want to know more. I need to be the best Gospel I can be and that can only be achieved n conjunction with the whole Body of Christ, worshipping and praying together, humbly serving others and living my life in humility and love.
People are rarely introduced to Christ through reading. They can’t be shamed, scared or guilted into loving God. Only by meeting the risen Lord, embodied by His disciples as they humbly serve each other and their community, will people be drawn to Him. As a member of the Body of Christ, all I can do is prayerfully live my life in love and if anyone asks, tell them to “come and see”.