I cringed as I approached the man shouting Scripture at everyone who passed by.
It was the Christmas season and the weather had turned cold and blustery. I was in a hurry to get around a corner teeming with holiday shoppers. I wasn’t the only person in a hurry to find a warm place out of the wind. Folks scurried about taking little notice of the man’s attempts to thrust tracks in their hands. Some scowled angrily; others simply raised a hand to say “no thank you”. I was embarrassed for him! Just as soon as the twinge of embarrassment washed over me; my mind said “shame on you”. He was after all, simply sharing the Lord and the plan of salvation at the holiday when we celebrate the Savior’s birth.
How often have you encountered a “street preacher” seeking to share the Good News with everyone who passes by? Did you feel as I did – embarrassed for him – or her? Did you just as quickly experience a twinge of guilt for being embarrassed as if your embarrassment was for the Word and not the person delivering the Word?
Years ago, Dr. Jack Hayford, a well respected Christian leader spoke of a similar incident he and wife Anna encountered upon leaving a theater in Southern California. Jack mentioned the same feelings I experienced that cold winter day in December. Embarrassment, shame, guilt – then clarification. Then Jack’s words turned to “balance”. The balance that mature Christian’s must reach in our spiritual growth and development.
“We are not to give cause for the Lord to be ridiculed“, he said. “We must mature as believers and find a balance between sharing the Word and being the Word in a world that says it doesn’t want it – but desperately needs it!“
The man on the street corner – the “street preacher” – believed he was fulfilling the mandate to take the Good News to all; but was doing so in a way that actually turned folks off. Folks who might otherwise be drawn to a relationship with the Lord. The same is true of folks like Tim Tebow who genuinely felt he was honoring the Lord when he knelt down in the end zone after a touchdown to thank God – in front of millions. Many of those millions taking the opportunity to heap ridicule not just on Tebow – but upon the Lord.
How easy it is to genuinely believe we are honoring PAPA with our public displays when in reality we are doing just the opposite! Somewhere between publicly shouting our faith and quietly honoring Him in our hearts is the balance PAPA seeks for all His children!
We live in a society and culture that reveres “balance”. We talk about work-life balance; balance between our personal and professional lives. Balance between what we earn and what we spend. Everything in life these days seems to be wrapped around finding “balance”. Yet for many new believers, we lose all sense of common sense when we first come into relationship with Jesus.
I recall my spiritual director telling me that most folks need to be locked away for at least a year after an encounter with the Risen Lord. Not to protect themselves; but to protect the general populace. Too often, new Christians grab their Bibles and run from door to door seeking to beat all into submission. Who does that glorify? No one I can think of! Even Paul was quickly drawn away by PAPA. And Scripture tells us that “the church had peace!”.
Gaining balance in our Christian life does not come quickly. Just as finding balance in the other aspects of life doesn’t come quickly – or easily. We have to learn when, where and with whom we are called to “testify”. Only a discerning soul will hear the Voice of the Lord on the when, where and who; thus avoiding a heap of ridicule on self and the Lord.
I’m fond of Christian leaders like Dr. Hayford and Max Lucado. Quiet, well-balanced men of God who don’t shout down the opposition, but give voice to the heart whispers of believers seeking to serve the Lord in ways that are designed for them by the Father Who knows the plans He has for us! Plans for growing up and into the messenger He deems us to be.
The truth is this: we are far more His witnesses by our lives – who we are as believers – than anything we say! We’re not expected to be perfect, just to live a life that is as balanced spiritually as it is in every other aspect. There will be an attractiveness about us that will draw others. They will recognize there is something different about us and perhaps they will desire what it is that makes us different! When that occurs, the time to speak has arrived.
The next time you encounter someone who has yet to reach a level of mature balance, smile and give them a wave of the hand. Honor their misguided attempts to share the Word.
Then thank PAPA that He has led you onto the path of a balanced spiritual life in which He will give an increase. In His timing and in the way He has designed specifically for you!
Linda S. Fitzgerald
Empowering Women of Faith to Thrive
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-xap1/v/t1.0-1/p160x160/10933880_10152999878054264_1749306739390848122_n.jpg?oh=3b9b3e144f0b306aa0cc748b03d9dd6a&oe=55550352&__gda__=1432002183_d9a5e0b3a35fc3cfbbe66ed7bc7658c9[/author_image] [author_info]My passion is to see women become all they are designed to be – personally, professionally and most of all – spiritually. I write, teach, mentor and coach with that passion in mind. As an author and prolific blogger, I reach out to women in all walks of life, especially women of faith to empower and equip them for greatness. [/author_info] [/author]