When I was in college, I heard a quote that changed my entire thinking about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. It was in my Life of Christ class and the quote was from a guy named St. Francis of Assisi who was an Italian Catholic friar and preacher. One of his most famous quotes, and the one to which I’m referencing, goes like this: “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words”.
This one quote helped to shape my thinking that my life wasn’t just about me. My redeemed life in Christ was actually about way more than just me; it was about the entire unbelieving world right in front of me as well. I learned that the way I live my life should reflect the life of Christ as much as humanly possible and with the strength of the Holy Spirit helping me in my weaknesses.
Now, for a long time after that I was under the impression that my evangelistic efforts could be entirely summed up in that quote: “Preach the gospel at all time, and when necessary, use words”. Therefore, I focused on living a righteous life everywhere I went and assumed I was doing effective evangelism. The problem with this thinking is something Paul brings up in our text for this week in Romans 10:14-15 that says:
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Paul throws out these multiple rhetorical questions that I believe should get us thinking. Taking a look at verse 14, what if we read that text while replacing “they” with “your co-workers, your siblings, your neighbors, your boss, your kids’ teacher, etc”? “How will they believe in him of whom they have never heard?” What I’ve come to realize is that St. Francis’s quote isn’t necessarily wrong – it’s just incomplete with the understanding that holistic evangelism is about demonstration and proclamation. It’s both – not either or.
If you’re anything like me, I find it easier to demonstrate the gospel in my daily life than it is to actively and intentionally proclaim the gospel. Regardless of where you’re at, my encouragement to you and to myself is to continually seek to be growing in confidence in both areas: demonstrate and proclaim.
How are you doing at demonstrating the gospel?
- Do you serve those around you with love, grace, compassion, mercy, and joy?
- Do you engage and invest in people where God has placed you? (where you live, work, and play?)
- Do you take time each day to pray for those who don’t know Christ?
- Do you take time to engage and invest in the lives of other believers and help them demonstrate and proclaim the gospel where God has placed them?
What are some other ways we can demonstrate the gospel?
How are you doing at proclaiming the gospel?
- Do you have regular, intentional contact with those who don’t know Christ with the purpose of sharing your faith and the gospel with them to some degree?
- Do you seek to build new friendships with those outside your Christian circles?
- Do you partner with the local church in larger evangelistic efforts like block parties, community service projects, etc?
What are some other ways we can proclaim the gospel?
The last part of verse 15 Paul quotes Isaiah 52:7: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”
Let’s be a family of believers that has beautiful feet – meaning, let’s be a relief and a refreshing presence in the lives of those who do not know Christ by sharing with them the hope we’ve found in Christ alone, by grace alone. This is an incredible truth and gift that is worth sharing!