Christians are communicators. While some Christians may be more or less gifted in communication, all Christians are “witnesses.” Since we have been born again into Christ and witness personally the power of the gospel, we are to bear witness of what we have seen and heard:
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
It is expected. Jesus did not say “you might be” or “from time to time you could be,” but instead “you will.” We have been issued a divine summon, and we must appear and testify. This is not optional. All of us, whether we are a plumber or a preacher, a poet or a pastor, are communicators of the gospel. We communicate truths about God and His Word. We communicate the gospel in our homes, our jobs, with our friends, and in our churches. Communication should be very important to us.
It hasn’t always been important to me. Many years ago I was impressed with my own rhetorical skill and put together a sermon I was super proud of. I started with a lengthy and elaborate illustration using Gilligan’s Island as the premise. I wrote out the sermon which explained how all of us, from time to time, get stuck on a spiritual island. I spoke of how we might use all kinds of things to get off that island – we might use our intelligence, our money, our talent, our charm. See what I did there with each of the characters on the TV show?
Yep. I did that. And then, after I wrote it, I remember thinking to myself, I should find some Bible verses to stick into this talk.
By God’s grace, I’ve gotten older. As I continue to mature, there are some things that are becoming more important to me about the way I communicate God’s Word. Hopefully, these will be helpful to you too:
1. Clarity over cleverness.
It’s easy to get enamored with our own cleverness. When we do this, we come up with clever ways to explain things in the Bible through illustrations. But the danger is that we distort what the Bible says with our own cleverness. As we think through illustrations, it is wise to ask whether or not we trust the use of our clever rhetoric and our own ability to communicate more than we trust the power of God’s Word.
2. Faithful over funny.
Humor is a powerful thing. I think Jesus used humor from time to time in His own teaching. For example, it is funny to think about a person who walks around with a plank stuck out of his head while he looks for splinters in someone else’s eye. Humor is a gift and a tool that we can use to help communicate. We should also be careful because we often want to keep our “funny” darlings close, the ones that we know will solicit a laugh, and then look for a way to work them in so much that we bend the true content of the message.
3. Adoration over admiration.
Everyone likes to be liked. I certainly do. It is dangerous when we communicate effectively and people leave a conversation, class, or church service dazzled at our rhetoric and we never bring them humbly to the God we represent. If that happens, then we have garnered admiration from another, but we haven’t led that other to adore Jesus Christ.
Christian, you are a witness. I am too. We are called as witnesses to be faithful, clear, and aim to point people to Jesus. Let’s make sure that our cleverness and humor doesn’t lead others to admire us instead of the Son of God.