In my profession, I have to conduct a lot of presentations. One of the most difficult aspects of this for me (and there are many), is communicating in a way where after the meeting, the participants are ready and spurred to action. A very popular technique that presenters use is making their “parting words”, the last thing they say, a clear and concise list of actions so that the audience knows what they should do afterward. Although this is a great technique, I have found it is not always sufficient. Often (quite often) people still need further clarification. Why? They understand “what” to do. The problem is that they missed or didn’t understand “how” to do it.
The longer I live the more I observe that God’s Word addresses every situation I experience (have you noticed this too?). Case in point; take a look at the parting words of Jesus to His disciples right before he ascends into heaven:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I think it’s pretty clear “what” Jesus was telling His disciples (present and future) to do; make disciples of all nations, to share our faith with the whole world. But where I get stuck (and I don’t think I’m alone”) is the “how”?
To be honest, I don’t know the whole answer but something happened this weekend that revealed something interesting. R’ee and I are celebrating our 9th anniversary shortly and have been planning a trip to the mountains. We reserved a beautiful cabin for the trip about two months ago but this weekend we received an email from the property owner that there was a scheduling mishap she was working to resolve. This news came 2 weeks before our scheduled arrival. She called late Saturday night to deliver the final news: there was no possible way to honor our reservation. She apologized over and over again, offering to help us track down another place, so eager to make amends but powerless to do so. Needless to say, I was greatly displeased. Her mistake hurt me. But as I listened to her profuse apologies and felt the depth of her remorse a series of words just fell out of my mouth. “I’m a Christian. I believe that I have been forgiven so much in my life. So not forgiving you would just be ridiculous. We accept your apology and forgive you. Please be at peace.” She was stunned into silence.
She thanked me and we completed our conversation. She later emailed me sharing how much she learned from what I shared with her and the impact it had on her life.
What did I teach her? The same thing Jesus has taught me; grace, forgiveness, the Gospel.
What did I learn? Sometimes the best conditions to share your faith and present the Gospel is in the midst of conflict with that person. After all, those are the same conditions by which the Gospel came to be fulfilled.
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In the midst of great conflict between humanity and God, the Father presented good news (The Gospel) to the world. A Savior had come, not to condemn us for our wrong against God, but to save us from it and its penalty through sacrificing His life so that we may receive forgiveness.
What would your life be like if you saw every conflict as an opportunity to fulfill the Savior’s “parting words”?