I am amazed by the dedication of actors, actresses, directors, stage crew, and musicians who participate in community theater productions. They must learn their parts, faithfully attend practices, and reliably show up for performances for the entire company depends on each volunteer. Yes, volunteer! Most community theater productions are fully staffed by people who love to be on stage so much that they would labor intensely just to put on a show before a live audience. Tickets cover costs related to renting the hall, using the script, and other fees.
Which leaves me wondering how much people must love Jesus when they talk about why they attend worship, why they make significant contributions to the church, and why they volunteer so many hours?
Unfortunately people who bubble over with joy about what Jesus has done in their lives are few and far between. Instead when I challenge people to invite their friends and family to a special worship service I often receive excuses or silent avoidance.
Paul had the same problem nearly 2,000 years ago and he replied:
“Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart (that is, the word of faith which we preach); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
— Romans 10:6-9
Apparently even in Paul’s day people worried about what others might say about them. But Paul has an answer for that too: “The scripture says, ‘No one who believes in him will be put to shame.’ ”
The big controversy in our day seems to be over evangelizing by deeds or by words. Street preachers are perhaps the worst example of the confessing only with one’s mouth. I firmly believe that the best evangelists take time to sit with and listen to people before speaking. On the other hand St Francis of Assisi answered the question about the value of what we do by saying: “Pray at all times; use words if necessary.”
How might you share God’s message of salvation?
I will have more to say about Romans 10:5-13 on Sunday, August 13th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor