Imagine with me for one moment… that you cannot speak.
You have completely lost your ability to sing, speak, or even utter one audible sound. Through a strange and irreversible virus, you have totally become mute. This crazy virus, weirdly enough, only attacked your vocal chords, numbing the nerves that control your voice box, and you’ve been left with only an indiscernible whisper.
It was a great and tragic shock to my system when a vocal specialist, from the U of M medical complex, told me that I had contracted a virus similar to the one described above. During my time in India, a virus infected my body and left me with a semi-paresis of my upper-superior laryngeal nerve. That’s just fancy medical language for this: a nerve that helped control my left vocal chord was semi-paralyzed or numb.
Croaking sounds that resembled a bullfrog seemed more common out of my mouth than normal human sounds, let alone my previous 2.5 octave range. For more than 8 months, tears streamed down my face on a regularly basis, as I wondered if I would ever be able to speak or sing normally again.
But What If…?
By God’s grace my condition did not last forever, nor was it ever as far-reaching as our moment of imagination above. I never completely lost my ability to speak, although my voice was severely limited for quite some time. But think about this: what if I had become entirely mute? What if I lost complete control of my voice box? What if I had been left with only an indiscernible whisper?
What if you and I became entirely mute, unable to speak? Would we be unable to ever again share the Gospel of grace with the lost? How could they hear the Good News from you, if you could not be heard? Remember, in Romans 10:13-14 the apostle Paul wrote, “For ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” So it would seem the Gospel has to be audibly heard in order for someone to be saved. And this would be an accurate supposition from this text. The lost must hear, understand, and believe in the truth of God in Christ in order to be saved.
Shouting without Words…
But I wonder if there is another way to shout out the Gospel… without using words. Certainly, the special revelation of God, the Bible, is necessary for saving faith in Jesus Christ. Yet we would all agree that we could betray the amazing value and worth of Christ by the way we live. We can choose to put ourselves first, live for our desires, and run after our passions instead of God’s will. Yet on the flip side, we can display the amazing value and worth of Christ by the way we live as well! In this way, you and I can shout out Christ through beautiful “good” works.
We can proclaim the immense worth and power of Christ without using words. In fact, the myriad lost people across our country seem to most often “hear” more loudly through what they see, rather than through what they catch in their eardrums.
I believe this is exactly what Peter was getting at when he wrote to believers scattered throughout a hostile environment:
“Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good [kalos – “beautiful” or “excellent”] deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
The dozens of on-lookers who watch you from next door, across the classroom, or in the neighboring cubicle may actually come to recognize God as God (“glorify God…”) through the way you and I live. Wow. Certainly, we are saved through the Gospel of grace, not good works; however, good works show that the Gospel of grace is at work in us. So let’s take the challenge from God’s Word to not betray the amazing worth of Christ, but instead shout out Jesus Christ through what we do with our hands and feet, and not just with our mouths.
Most people are “sick of hearing it.” For far too long, people who claim the name of Jesus have been all talk with little action. So let’s give them something to “hear” with their eyes. The impact of shouting the Gospel without words might leave you and I quite amazed… and make God known in this world.
How will you shout out the worth of Christ with attractive actions?
In Christ Alone,
Click below to listen to the full message entitled “Shout out Christ with Attractive Actions” (1 Peter 2:11-12) from the series First Peter: Radical Living in the Hope of Christ. I delivered this message to the 7-12th graders of Evangel Baptist Church on 4/4/12.