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We Must Show Them

Tuesday, April 09, 2024 @ 10:14 AM We Must Show Them Dr. Joe McKeever Guest Blogger MORE

Before We Tell the World, We Must Show Them

…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

Show and tell. Sounds simple enough.

Every kindergartner knows the process. You bring something to school and then tell the class what it is. What it means to you. How it works.

A few years ago, I sat at the head table when veteran lineman Frank Warren was inducted into the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame. His agent paid tribute to his star player.

"We live in Dallas. I’ll never forget the day my five-year-old son took Frank Warren to his school for show-and-tell. Frank flew to Dallas just to do that for my child."

I sat there not quite believing my ears. This football player went to all the trouble of flying from New Orleans to Dallas for no other purpose than accompanying a preschooler to kindergarten for show-and-tell?

No wonder the agent was still speaking of it, years later. Who would not remember that?

A few years back Henry Blackaby spoke to Louisiana Baptists about post-9/11 life for Christians in America.

"After 9-11, business as usual would be an affront to God … So far, we are not being the salt and light God intended … We have had very little effect on this society."

It should matter to every Christian that the world around us ignores us, that it does not take us seriously, and even scoffs at our faith.

We have no one to blame but ourselves.

AMC-TV was running the movie “Shawshank Redemption” twice each night. I finally sat down and watched it, for the first time since it appeared maybe 20 years earlier. It was easy to see why it’s so memorable and even loved. The roles played by Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman wedge themselves in our consciousness and will not turn us loose without a struggle.

As a Christian, however, I was highly offended by the warden in that prison called Shawshank. He quoted the Bible, preached its platitudes, and then was guilty of the harshest brutality and greed. He even ordered murders to protect his criminal enterprise. All the while, Bible verses were displayed prominently and the man’s Bible was a major actor in the story.

One wonders if the movie’s screenwriter and director were making their own personal statement about Christians. If so, something inside us wants to argue with that depiction, to fight back, to defend ourselves.

However, truth to tell, we have all seen people just like that warden. When I lived in New Orleans, a parish president who served prominently in various levels of government for decades resigned his position and was charged with corruption in the period following Hurricane Katrina. The local newspaper uncovered all kinds of unscrupulous dealings the man and his cronies pulled off.

That man had presented himself as a born-again Christian at public events. At prayer luncheons and in church appearances, he would stride to the podium and begin, “I am a born-again follower of Jesus Christ.” This was unusual language coming from a practicing Catholic and it tended to warm the hearts of us non-Catholics in the audience.

In time we learned he was playing us like a fiddle.

He had the words right, but his life did not back them up.

He said one thing but his life showed something else.

Show and tell. Pay close attention to that order.

The Lord Jesus refused a man who wanted to leave everything and follow Him. I want you to go home, the Lord said. Go home to your people. Tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and that He has had compassion on you (Mark 5:19).

This man had been the terror of the entire area. He had lived like a madman, under the control of the most despicable demons. He was self-destructive, and so intent on hurting himself that his compassionate neighbors chained him up. Even so, his strength was such that he could snap the chains. Day and night, they would hear him howling in the cemetery.

Then Jesus came. He cast out the demons and set the man free.

Later that day, as our Lord was leaving the shores of Galilee with the disciples, the man ran up and begged for permission to accompany the group. But Jesus had other plans for him.

A person with something to “show”–a Christ-transformed life–is exhibit A for God.

The people of his hometown knew all too well what the Devil had done to the man’s life. Now they needed to see what Jesus could do. The Man of Galilee had restored the man’s sanity, quietened his spirit, returned him to his family, and made him a productive member of society.

People were fascinated. Could this be the same person they used to hear howling in the tombs? It was. But how could such a thing happen?

The man spoke volumes about Jesus before he ever opened his mouth. His life was new, clean, quiet, orderly, focused, and healthy.

He had the undivided attention of his neighbors.

Jesus had instructed him to “tell them what the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

Show them. Then, tell them.

Something inside us wants to short-cut the process. Let’s win them without showing them anything.

“Let’s skip the show-them part and convince them they need to be saved now. We don’t have time to delay.”

We wonder why our hearers seem strangely inattentive to us and unconcerned about their own welfare. We are puzzled by their resistance to the gospel.

The reason is clear: We have left out the first part. We are not showing the community the difference Jesus has made in our lives. We are expecting them to take by faith that trusting Christ will mean a vast and permanent improvement in their own situation and that failing to do so will bring disastrous results.

I can give you the names of a dozen churches I’ve seen in which leaders acted like children (or worse, like hoodlums) and ruined the ministries of good pastors who refused to do their bidding. Conscientious church members grew exasperated by such heavy-handedness and left. The remaining members and leaders acted as if nothing had happened and that all was well, and proceeded to search out another pastor. The new shepherd came in and went to work, attempting to put into effect the ministry to which God had called him. But nothing worked. Every effort came up empty. The community was not interested in whatever it was that congregation was selling. They had seen all they cared to of that church’s interior life.

God will not send an evangelistic harvest to a church torn asunder by carnal leaders and headstrong, self-willed pastors and rebellious church members–or any one of the three.

God will not bless a church that runs off its pastor because they thought it was time for a change, they had grown tired of him, or “we felt we needed new leadership.” According to Acts 20:28, it is the Holy Spirit and He alone who appoints the “overseers” of the church.

God is not pleased with a church that takes upon itself His prerogative to bring in, move out, or dismiss pastors.

The world would be more likely to trust Jesus if it could see people who looked and acted like Him.

The Apostle Peter told the believers of his generation what God had made them in Jesus Christ: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession.”

That’s who they were.

Then, he followed that with a word on what they were to do: “…that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

We are to be who God has made us. That’s the “show” part.

Then and only then are we to do what He has commanded: that’s the “tell” or “proclaim” aspect.

The showing legitimizes the telling.

The showing captures their attention so they will listen to the telling.

That’s how God did it.

God demonstrates His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) God showed us His love by sending His Son. Then, He sent the apostles and others to tell that message.

One reason some of us are hesitant to witness to our closest friends and relatives is that we know they have not seen anything in us to back up our words. I suggest that we shelve the telling until we have given them a little more showing.

(Editor's Note: This blog was posted first on Dr. McKeever's blog site HERE.)

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