One of my mentors in spiritual growth a few years ago was by one of the U.K.’s most influential evangelists: J.John of the Philo Trust. The following devotional is a summary, (along with some scriptures & my thoughts), of a conversation I had with J.John about the 3 most basic mandates for every follower of Christ.
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16: 15.
“Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” I Tim. 6: 12.
From the earliest days of the Book of Acts, the disciples spoke out. They, as His first witnesses, shared the story of the life, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ. And they have passed the baton to you and I.
From this day until the return of Christ, it is your turn to courageously speak out of what Christ has accomplished in you and through you. Shine as a witness and never be afraid of the court of public opinion.
In these days of religious misconceptions and political madness, humble people are still seeking answers to the most basic questions of life. And you have THE answer: Jesus.
“The powerful announcement is that God is God, that Jesus is Lord, that the powers of evil have been defeated, that God’s new world has begun. This announcement, stated as a fact about the way the world is rather than an as an appeal about the way you might like your life, your emotions, or your bank balance to be, is the foundation of everything else. It means that all people everywhere are gladly invited to come in, to join the party, to discover forgiveness for the past, an astonishing destiny in God’s future, and a vocation in the present.”
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” Romans 12: 1-2, The Message Bible.
Living out your faith to the broken world and fallen humanity around you is a vital component of your spiritual life. The earliest communities of believers actually displayed the wonderful fruit of a Spirit-filled life. They gave to one another sacrificially and in pure love. They took seriously the Word and they let it become life within. They lived radical “counter culture” lives in a way which were dedicated each day to the service of God. They showed the world “real character” and were filled with zeal in their service to Christ.
While it’s true that by following the mandate of “speak out” that you are “speaking” a testimony, it is also true that by following the mandate of “live out” that your life itself IS that testimony; like Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “You are our letter, known and read by all men” (II Cor. 3:2).
I remember the story of the amazing Roman Catholic leader St. Francis of Assisi.
A young friar once asked to accompany Francis on a preaching mission. As they talked, they walked about the town together. When their walk was ended, Francis bade the young man farewell. Disappointed, the young friar protested,
“I thought we were going on a preaching mission!”
“We did preach,” said Francis. “They marked us as we walked.”
“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink….Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25: 35a, 40b.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” I John 4: 7.
To “reach out” is to live “incarnately” like Jesus did, and intentionally make choices (and usually those choices take you out of your “comfort zone” and put you in “uncomfortable territory”). You’ll find even Jesus modeled this when He sent out the seventy; to those who were sick (who had real “felt needs”) He instructed them to heal the sick, and then only after meeting those real bodily needs, announce to them, “The Kingdom of God is here.”
Christ is love; Christ is love-in-action.
A great modern-day Good Samaritan examples of leadership are Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. They felt the calling to stop “doing church” and instead became missional strategists who started to “be the church.” They help non-profits with areas of human trafficking, helping the poor and disenfranchised, and their model of “church” includes regular times where every person involved has practical outreach opportunities to go and serve in the love of Jesus and meet real needs on a real level.
“We feel bad. We recognize need,” shares Brandon, “we talk about it with others. But so often we fall short of doing anything. We often confuse the heart of compassion that requires a response with the feeling of sympathy that remains idle. Most of us hear about need and sympathize. But that’s not compassion. It’s not justice. It’s not mercy. Sympathy remains only sympathy until we do something about it. Then it becomes an act of compassion: an appropriate response to the call of need.”
So, don’t hold back this week, move forward: Speak Out, Live Out, Reach Out!
-Carl Wesley Anderson of https://www.lovespeaks.today/
 N.T. Wright, “Surprised By Hope” pg. 227. HarperOne Publishers, 2008.
 Brandon Hatmaker, “Barefoot Church, Serving the Least in a Consumer Culture” pg. 34. Zondervan Publishing, 2011.