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Are You Kin To God?

Francis of Assisi reminds us there is more to preaching than pulpits and Sunday mornings — "Preach the Gospel all the time; when necessary, use words." The church must at times use words to accomplish her God-given mission of preaching the Gospel to all the world. Long before electronic and wireless communication technologies saturated the world with non-stop talk and an endless flow of words, ancient Christians "went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4). On the birthday of the church of Christ in Acts 2, Peter stood up with the other apostles and "raised his voice" and began to preach Christ (2;14). The apostles used words to explain the Gospel and teach people how to obey it — "with many other words he testified and exhorted them" to be saved (2:40). His words had a remarkable and powerful effect on many, and Luke records, "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them" (vs 38). The pages of the book of Acts are filled with the efforts of a church that was out and loud and unashamed of the Gospel, sounding it forth like a trumpet, determined to tell the whole world "words by which you will be saved" (Acts 11:14). Every saint ought to be engaged in telling the old, old story that guides lost people to understand and obey the Gospel.  But there is another way to preach the Gospel — a wordless way that lets our walking do the talking! The apostle Paul goes into great detail about it in Ephesians 4:17-6:9 where he makes clear Christians are to put off the old man and put on the new.

Dramatic and new patterns of thinking and speaking and living re to emerge after we come into Christ. Note 4:31-5:2 — "Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma." Those words present a clear and constant challenge. As Christians, we are not just to believe and say the right things, necessary as that is. Our challenge is not just to hear sermons and sing songs and participate in "God-talk" in a church building on Sundays. Our calling is simple, but, oh, so profound — imitate Christ on Monday and the rest of the week, in our homes, at school, on the job, wherever we go! By so doing we preach the Gospel all the time, even when we are not using words. Zelda Cornish worked at a shoe store in Truro, Nova Scotia. One day she noticed a barefooted little boy standing on a hot air grate outside the bakery shop next door, trying to keep warm. As Zelda thought over what to do, a middle-aged lady came along. She approached the boy, brought him into the shoe store, and bought him some new shoes and woolen socks. The boy awkwardly tried to thank the kind lady and asked her, "Are you God's wife?" She was taken aback by the question, and took several seconds before replying, "No, son, I'm just one His children." The boy said, "I knew you must be some kin to Him." He thanked her again and ran out the door (from Bulletin Digest). Each of us preaches a wordless sermon each day by the way we live our lives. Does your life suggest to others that you are kin to God?

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ