Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

There’s no shushing the shepherds…

PREACHER TONY Campolo used to make me laugh when he’d tell how, as a Baptist, he was mistaken for a Pentecostal by some people because he talked so quickly they thought he was speaking in tongues. Unfortunately, a lot of folks still seem to confuse the gift of gab with the gifts of the Spirit.

I don’t mean in regards to communicating in other languages (and the story of the Day of Pentecost is as much about the gift of ears as it is the gift of tongues), but in their own. There are preachers out there with big followings (and, often, big churches as a result) who are brilliant communicators. Yet I don’t sense any real spiritual depth to them.

While they really know how to work a crowd, it seems based more on personal charisma than God’s charism, or spiritual endowment. They could just as easily do TED talks or earn a living as stand-up comics or motivational speakers.

That’s bad enough, but there’s a subtle secondary problem with all this. It’s that too many Christians then get the idea that because they are not great orators, they are excused—if not excluded—from being part of sharing the good news.

But that’s not what we find in the Bible. Indeed, God seems to go out of the way to choose unlikely messengers. Moses, the stutterer. David, the runt of the litter. John the Baptist, the oddball. Paul the dull speaker, who literally bored someone to death (read Acts 20).

You get my point? We don’t have to be qualified to get to speak up. In fact, you might almost argue that feeling disqualified is the best qualification. As the old saying goes, God is looking for the willing, not the able.

Actually, this truth—that God often uses those who have no voice to speak for Him—is woven into the very fabric of the gospel.

We see it at the end, of course, when the first people to meet the risen Jesus and get to go tell others about it are women. This at a time when women were not considered credible witnesses in a court of law (what a scandalous idea).

It is also there at the beginning, in the Christmas story. The first people to whom the good news of the birth of the Savior is delivered are a bunch of shepherds—whose testimony, like that of women, is not admissible in legal proceedings.

Note that in neither case does their “disqualification” keep them quiet. The shepherds won’t be shushed. The sisters won’t be silenced. They go and tell what they have experienced. Same for you and me. We don’t have to have fancy words or a sweet turn of phrase. We just need to be willing to tell people what has happened to us.

Photo by Oblong on Foter.com/CC BY-NC-SA

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