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Is 'Living the Life' Really Enough?
Paul Tatham, 56, is an author, speaker, and educator from Royal Palm Beach, Florida. He and his wife, Susan, have three daughters—Jennifer, Jana, and Corrie.
By Paul Tatham
Those of us who have accepted Christ as Savior hear a lot about evangelism. We're told that one of the primary reasons we have been left on earth, following our conversion, is to win others to Christ.
We go about that divine task in a two-fold manner. First, by living a life that is exemplary and, second, by actually verbalizing our faith. The object of the first is to live our life in such a way that onlookers will be intrigued enough to ask what makes us different. That, in turn, should segue into an opportunity to present the gospel—how Christ has paid for our sins on the cross, thus paving the way for His free offer of eternal life for all those who merely ask.
But I've been concerned, over the years, with the growing number of born-again believers who faithfully fulfill part A but woefully neglect part B. When asked what their game plan is for reaching their Hell-bound neighbors and colleagues for Christ, their response is often,"Well, I'm living the life." A few of us may even be bold enough to drop a passing word for the Lord now and then ("my son survived the accident by the grace of God"). But basically the crux of our plan consists of being such a nice person that one day, hopefully, that unsaved friend will pop the $64,000 question: "You're such a nice person. How can I be like you?"
But there's a problem with such a plan: you could be waiting a long time. And, in the meantime, the clock is ticking on all those other associates who, too, think you are someone special but aren't quite stirred enough to ask why.
The greater need today is for Christians who will speak their faith, not just live it. Notice, by the way, that I said greater need, not greater in importance. Of course living the life is of vital importance, for if one is all talk, and no walk, then his message will carry little clout.
Actually, for many of us, living the life is easier than talking about it. That's because when we met Jesus, the Holy Spirit took up residence in our lives and completely changed our worldly appetites. We no longer serve Satan, nor are we as drawn by what he has to offer. Through little effort on our part, we've become a better person.
But telling others about that transformation doesn't come as readily. For some reason, spiritual lockjaw sets in. So we sheepishly hide behind the lure of our lifestyle, praying for the occasional nibble.
But is "living the life" really enough? Will my lifestyle, alone, actually be potent enough to evoke the all-important query, "What makes you different?" Well, to be honest, I've never experienced it. And I've known Christ almost 50 years. I don't smoke or drink or cuss or chew, and people tell me I'm generally a nice guy, but the point is I'm still waiting.
But never mind me. Probably others, more godly, will have stories to tell. Over the years, I've taken an informal poll of believers I consider far more Christlike than I. Surely they've been asked many times. But, sadly, I've found that their record isn't much better than mine. The conclusion: if these super saints can't elicit an inquiry, what chance do I have?
The walk, alone, won't cut it. Period. It must be coupled with the talk. Most unsaved folk will size you up as simply "a nice guy," and leave it at that, never realizing Who made you that way.
Let me go further out on a limb and make a bold claim: we need to talk our faith because if we don't explain the gospel—literally the "good news"—few will figure it out on their own. After all, most lost people have had little exposure to God's simple plan of salvation and, therefore, picture the final judgment as a great celestial weigh-in. If our good works outweigh our bad works, we're in. If I didn't know better, that would sound reasonable to me too. Or, perhaps, simply looking around at nature and concluding that there must be a Creator (capital C) behind it all. Many settle for mere recognition of a Supreme Being. All plausible, but all wrong. The good news takes a little explaining before most folk can get a handle on it.
That's why Romans 10:14 asks the provocative question, "How shall they believe in Him in whom they have not heard?" It takes a messenger—a Christian bold enough to put his mouth where his lifestyle is.
During World War II, a common poster seen around army and naval bases cautioned servicemen that "loose lips lose lives." The intent, of course, was to warn soldiers and sailors that discussing war-related plans with strangers could be used against them. Perhaps Christians today need a newer version of the same poster: "loose lips save lives." Those bold enough to speak up are more likely to be the ones who will rescue lives from eternal death.