Image by Sam Carter
St. Francis reputedly said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” A friend told me the other day that she doesn’t “preach” to her non-believing husband, but rather prays he’ll be drawn to Jesus by seeing him in her. She has a point. Because if he’s not in us, he won’t be in our words.
And if he is, as St. Francis implied, we may not even need words.
The pastor of my first church had been trained to “preach salvation” every Sunday, and to pump his congregation to “bring the unsaved.” But they rarely did. So his sermons always concluded with haranguing his congregants for not caring about “the lost sheep!”
Then one day he prayed, “Something’s wrong, Lord. I should be feeding my flock, not beating them!” (Pastor is the Greek word for “shepherd.”) And so, while he cared passionately about the lost, he disobeyed his denomination’s directives, and instead began teaching verse-by-verse Bible lessons.
His congregation loved it. They were bubbling over with excitement about the things they were learning. And it showed! But what about all of those lost sheep?
Interestingly, the empty seats began to fill as his congregants’ neighbors started showing up. What had changed? His congregants’ lives. And their friends and family members, even strangers, had noticed. They were “preaching the gospel at all times” by being so full of Jesus that others couldn’t help but observe and ask what it was that filled them with such hope, peace and excitement. “How can I have what you have?” people asked.
Pastor Chuck could almost see God grinning when he realized that this was how God had intended things to work all along. Because undernourished sheep huddle together, well, “sheepishly,” but…
Healthy sheep reproduce.