Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is Preaching By Example Enough?

You're cruising down a beautiful country road when you see a sign that reads "Bridge Out", so you begin to slow. Suddenly a snazzy red Tesla roars past you headed for the missing bridge at high speed. The driver of the Tesla obviously missed the sign or completely ignored it. Now chances are pretty good that the Tesla will run out of juice before it reaches the bridge, but still.... so to save the driver of that sports car you spring into action! You adjust your seat belt, check your mirrors, make sure your passengers are safely buckled in and you ease up on the gas. 

When you reach the bridge you see far below in the ravine the smoking wreckage of a once beautiful Tesla sports car, you look away quickly before you see what happened to the driver. What happened? You showed the driver of the Tesla how to drive safely, you showed him the proper way to slow down, you were a perfect example of caution - you did everything you could to stop him, right? You betcha, praise the lord there's no law stating that you actually had to do something, like blow your horn, flash your lights, wave at him to slow down...

Or is there?

I was in a discussion a while ago where I heard that the best way to preach the Word of God is to set a good example, nothing else is needed. Is that so? Without God's word, exactly what am I setting a good example of? I know plenty of people who lead good clean lives; they dress nice, keep their houses neat and orderly, volunteer at the local soup kitchen. The kind of folks you'd let watch your young children without a moments hesitation, until you notice that they're rabid atheists, satanists, or worse. If I act the exact same way as they do, with the exception of praising God rather than praising something like rocks and trees like they do, all that they learn is that I act the exact same way they do with the exception of the pagan thing.
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
Our marching orders come straight from Jesus himself - go out and spread the word to the entire world. Being a living example of the way that Christ wants us to live is just a part of the Great Commission, for to live any other way would be highly hypocritical and do we need to discuss the pharisees any more than necessary?

In their book Total Church, authors Tim Chester and Steve Timmis tell us:
There is a tendency in some quarters today to promote a kind of evangelism without proclamation. Acts of service are done or people are invited to experience Christian worship. But without words of explanation these are like signposts pointing nowhere, or worse still, signposts pointing to our good works. The Gospel is good news- a message to be proclaimed, a truth to be taught, a word to be spoken, and a story to be told (p. 54).
So the answer to my question in the title of this post - is preaching by example enough - the answer is no. We have to live a Godly life to show our brethren how best to live, but we also have to tell them why we're living the way we do. God commands us to plant seeds and to preach the word:
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1 Corinthians 3:6-8)
19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
God gave us talents, skills and abilities primarily to glorify Him and spread His word. And in the end we have to stand before Him and give an accounting of ourselves. What do we say when he says "Your cousin was a cat eating satanist who could have been saved. I gave you eyes to see, ears to hear, and a tongue to speak, so why is he roasting in hell now?" How well do you think your answer "I went to church on Sundays so he could see how to worship you" is going to be received?

So my question from before - is there a law stating that we have to do anything to save that Tesla - the answer is yes. Flash your lights, blow your horn, do what ever you can to slow that Tesla down. Yes, showing an example is a good thing, but we have to show that Tesla WHY we slowed down. We don't have to be a Todd Friel when we share the Word of God, but Todd does give us a few good ideas:

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