Of Power and Love: Why I'm Not Waiting To Become The Perfect Messenger In Order to Tell People About Jesus
But one old man knew the danger. He tried to intervene, tried to speak with them, tried to reason with them. They wouldn’t listen. They couldn’t comprehend that such a wondrous thing was a sign of coming destruction.
So the old man climbed up to the fields of crops that occupied the high ground and he set fire to the harvest.
The townspeople recognized the smoke and dropped their shells and fish. Furious, they scrambled up the hill and began to beat the man and shout at him.
And that’s when the tsunami roared back over the sea bed, rising over the lip of the shore and crashing through their homes.
I don’t know why that story has stuck with me, but maybe it’s because last night I realized that I was like the old man.
The old man wasn't a perfect messenger - and Neither am I.
I work with a number of people. Some of them know the Lord, some of them think they do but become uncomfortable when discussion turns in a spiritual direction, and some of them want nothing to do with Him. And for months now—years even—I’ve been waiting to become the perfect messenger.
I make mistakes and poor judgments at work, more than I would like to admit. Every time I do, I cringe.
“Now I need to spend more time rehabilitating my reputation so that my co-workers can see that Christ is truly alive in me. I’ve got to be a good ambassador for Christ through my actions so that, when I have an opportunity to speak the truth, I’ll have the strength of a good reputation to give weight to my words.”
And you know what? That’s so backwards. I’m spending more time trying to be the perfect messenger than trying to bring the perfect message. I’m like the old man gently telling the people in the sea-bed that a tsunami is coming—and getting nowhere. My reputation might be salvaged, and the message might be given oh-so-kindly, but the people I care about aren’t gaining anything from it.
Even when the messenger is imperfect, the message can still get out.
Truthfully, I’m not worried so much about God’s reputation as I’m worried about mine. When I say, “I need to be a good ambassador,” what I really mean is that I want people to like me. Sure, I want God’s truth to go forth, but in a way that makes me look good, and that obscures the bumbling, idiotic, imperfect creature that I truly am.
What if I spoke the truth, even if I stumble over my words, blank out a few times, and feel awkward? What if I spoke the truth, even if I did just make a mistake or have a disagreement with someone? What if I spoke the truth, whether or not I felt ready or qualified or worthy?
I'll be ready to tell the truth when...
When what? When I'm ready? When I'm qualified? When I'm worthy? When is that?
I've got to accept looking foolish, hypocritical, or nutty if the message is going to get out. The imperfection of the messenger doesn't change the solid truth of the message. If this is really about souls and eternity, why do I hesitate?
I accept imperfection.
I’ll probably think of a million ways (afterward) that I could have said things better. I’ll continue to make stupid mistakes that reinforce the reality that—yup—I’m imperfect. I’ll still disagree with others from time to time, but that won’t change the fact that I genuinely do love them.
I don’t think I have an excuse to be sloppy or belligerent or defensive. That’s not Christ’s way. But the message of God’s incredible love is way too important to sit on until I can hone the perfect formula for evangelistic success, or until my life is perfect enough for me not to feel a little hypocritical when I speak about living for God.
I’m not waiting anymore. The tsunami is coming and people I love are in its path. I’ll never be the perfect messenger, but at least I can spread the message. If God’s Word does not return to Him void, then the message will do its own work.
What's been holding you back? What has been your experience when you do tell the truth?
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None of my life has gone the way it was "supposed to go," but I don't love my life any less because of the hardships and new directions. I see so much unexpected good in it, and I want others to see the good in theirs.