Luke 1:76-77 “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins.”
This was of course a prophecy that was very specific to John the Baptist, but in a very real sense it applies to every Christian. We cannot save anyone, as much as we might like to, but we can give people knowledge of the salvation that is available to them in Christ Jesus. We are not saviors, but we are to be conduits of God’s salvation that is available only through repentance and faith in His Son Jesus. Some people receive the knowledge and never act on it, which is tragic indeed, but it is their responsibility. However, without that knowledge, how can they believe and be saved? Paul expressed this very clearly: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14) Many are put off by the term, preaching, thinking either of a boring sermon or of having to go to seminary before being qualified to share the Gospel with anyone. Both ideas are sadly mistaken. This isn’t talking about formal sermons, it’s talking about communicating the love and grace of God. Francis of Assisi is credited with saying, “Preach constantly. When necessary, use words.” Words ultimately are necessary, but words by themselves aren’t sufficient. Paul is indeed talking about using words, but it is in line with what Peter said on the subject: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) As far as the second misconception goes, of needing academic credentials before you can share the Gospel, we need to remember that seminaries didn’t exist for several centuries after Pentecost; simply knowing the Gospel qualifies you to share it. When we really understand that we aren’t saving anyone, we’re just sharing the information they need so they can receive the salvation God has for them, then everything becomes much simpler and less pressure.
This is something I know very well, and yet I am torn up at how few people receive the message I share. I accuse myself in countless ways of being a poor communicator. Frankly, that doesn’t help. I’ve got to trust God fully and simply be faithful. I am to stand firm in faith, being instantly obedient however my Lord directs me, but not beating myself up over what my eyes see as my “legacy.” That is in the hands of the Lord, and He is my sure reward.
Father, I need renewal. I need recharging. I can easily think of things that would really give me a jolt of energy, (like people I am praying for getting right with You) but they are not things I can make happen. Help me indeed be anxious for nothing, but simply rest, relax, and rejoice in You. I’m concerned about such little things as the probability of rain for our Christmas caroling tomorrow night, and about whether anyone will show up for our Christmas Eve candlelight service. Help me release things into Your hands without being apathetic or resigned. There are some fine lines there! Help me receive fresh hope and anticipation from You by Your Spirit, so that Your joy may radiate from me and draw others to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!