What is Your Message?

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 (emphasis added)

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and watch some TV after a fruitful Sunday afternoon service with my wife, Patrique, when I discovered a new reality-TV series on The Learning Channel (TLC) @ 10pm entitled, The Messengers. Due to the spiritual shallowness of “reality-TV” shows such as American Idol and Survivor, I had to admit that at I was at first suspicious about the depth of such a program. But I was quickly inspired and challenged. The power and force of the spoken word and the motivation it inspires are the essence of this program. It is an eight-part series that has a simple yet lofty goal: to find America’s next great inspirational speaker. It showcases 10 speakers from a variety of perspectives, and explores their ability to communicate the many complexities of life’s toughest lessons. Along the way, the speakers address issues viewers face in their everyday lives and communities.

The foundation of each episode is a field trip designed to give the speakers a profound learning experience – the opportunity to walk in someone else’s shoes. In the first episode that I saw, the participants faced the harsh reality of homelessness. They spent 24 hours on the streets of Skid Row in Los Angeles and then delivered speeches based on the topic of charity. In subsequent episodes, the field trips are going to range from the participants living as a blind or wheelchair-bound individual for a day, to sharing in a powerful moment of forgiveness between a man convicted of vehicular homicide and the deceased’s mother. At the end of each field trip, the group is given their speaking topic – one simple word such as hope, perseverance or forgiveness, to use as the basis for their speeches.

Over the next 24 hours, the speakers blend their in-field experiences with their own life lessons to create powerful speeches of motivation for a studio audience. After each speech is delivered, public-speaking experts provide commentary and criticism to the participants. One gives the contestants constructive guidance on their delivery, technique and content development, and the other (a minister) focuses his remarks on the content and emotional connection the speakers make with the studio audience. At the conclusion of each episode, one person is eliminated by the studio audience’s vote. The speaker remaining at the end of the series will be crowned “The Messenger,” awarded a publishing deal and given the chance to host his or her own TLC television special. It is a pretty inspiring show.

For those of us who are disciples of Jesus Christ, the connection for us is obvious! Are we inspiring to others? Do our lives call others to imitate? Are we talking the talk, or are we truly walking the walk to inspire others to change? Are we walking in the shoes of others less fortunate so we can help them to see God? What message are we proclaiming? God has given each of us unique life experiences, that when combined with the truth his word, can be powerful inspirational messages to help people make a decision to follow Jesus!

I pray that “Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14), as we preach the word boldly and fearlessly for our God! To proclaim the word we need to call people to repentance. In Mark chapter 1 we see John the Baptist being a messenger for Jesus. As disciples of Christ, that is who we are. How did he do it? He preached that people should repent (vs.4-5). He called people to change their hearts and actions. He spoke in awe of God and his majesty (vs. 7). Do we speak with that kind of humility for God? When Jesus arrived, what did he begin proclaiming? The kingdom of God was near, so repent and believe! Then he called people to follow Him. That is the goal of being a messenger for God. We are calling people to follow us as we follow Christ. Unless we are reshaped and refined on God’s anvil to become more like Him, how can we do that? This is what it means to be a proclaimer of God’s message! Are you a “Messenger” today? What is your message?

We need to be trained to be not only faithful, but effective for God as well. To win people we need to have faith as well as training. Consider the following scriptures:

Acts 4:1 – “At Iconium Paul and Barnabas went as usual into the Jewish synagogue. There they spoke so effectively that a great number of Jews and Gentiles believed.”

Acts 18:28 – “For he (Apollos) vigorously refuted the Jews in public debate, proving from the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.”

Acts 19:8 – “Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God.”

Hebrews 4:2 – “For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.”

In an age of philosophical religions and self-help books we need to proclaim to the world that Jesus is the Son of God! We need to proclaim and argue persuasively about the Kingdom of God! Jesus’ church on earth and the His Kingdom in heaven! Jesus spent 40 days talking about it after his resurrection! How about you? We need to proclaim that without a deep faith in God, the religiosity of the world is useless! What are we proclaiming to the world? Let’s not just give people an invitation to church. Let’s share the good news of the gospel of Christ with them! In a world of confused identity, in a world of wavering commitments and foggy futures, we need to be firm in our role. Society is in dire need of a group of people whose task is clear and whose determination is unquenchable. Don’t allow persecution from others to discourage you! God’s will is very clear. He wants all people to become his disciples. Whether they do or not is their choice. But for God this is not a game that we stop when we lose. We need to keep going no matter what the outcome because His love for us. We know who we are. We know what we are here for. We are God’s people and we are to be about his business. If we live our lives in this way, then we can die with the assurance of knowing that our lives were well spent and that heaven is but a blink away. No fear of death and eternity, because we know we have pleased our Master. Is there any greater reward than that? Let’s focus on being an extension of who Jesus is for others to see. Let’s focus on being an ambassador of God’s love and His commitment to us. And let’s focus on being a proclaimer of God’s message to win the world for Him. It’s time to be instruments that are used for noble (better) purposes as we serve our God with joy, commitment and love.

As we prepare for August, I pray that we can grow in our faith, boldness, and effectiveness as we declare the Scriptures to our lost world. Our “Faith Factor” devotionals for the campus and teens have trained our youth to be effective as they preached the word with faith and conviction to the souls of our city! I pray that we can remember the spiritual slums of the world that God called us from. I pray we can connect with the reality of what it was like to be spiritually homeless, hungry and afraid as we reach with outstretched hands, not out of pity, but out of charity and gratitude for being called by the grace of God. And to Him be the glory!

Andrew Smellie