The Messenger and the Message
By Ed Delph
January 2, 2023
The phone rang, and the lady of the house answered. It was a salesman from a mortgage refinance company. "Do you have a second mortgage on your home?" "No," she replied. "Would you like to consolidate all of your debts?" "I don't have any," she replied. "How about freeing up some cash for home improvements?" "I don't need any. I just recently had some done and paid cash," she parried. There was a brief silence, and he asked, "Are you looking for a husband?"
In this brief conversation on the phone, the lady sent a message loud and clear. It was apparent to the salesman that this lady has values that, in many ways, define her. Her actions are consistent with her words. She walked the walk, not just talked the talk. The messenger and her message are compatible.
Those of you who are Christians in my reading audience, let me ask you a question. What kind of message are you sending to that world out there? The word Christian comes from Acts 11:26 in the Scriptures. "And it came about that they met with the church for an entire year and taught considerable numbers, and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch." The community named them using the word “Christians.” Why? Because the messengers and the message they were sending were consistent. I think Antioch had a branding gift.
The "Christians" in Antioch walked like Christ, talked like Christ, had integrity like Christ, ministered like Christ, were servant leaders like Christ, loved like Christ, and had wisdom like Christ; in short, they lived Christ. Christ in them came out of them. Who they were, became what they did. The city acknowledged the messengers and their message, naming them Christians or “little Christs.” The Christians of that day were earthly definers of Christ in the same way Christ represented God. They defined Christ by actions, not the religious rhetoric prevalent in their day and today.
God wants more than belief and worship in church. God wants faith and love in action outside of the church. God desires to connect the messenger and message with the audience through Christianity's real and tangible practices. After all, most people know who you are and what you do by what they see, not what they hear. Remember, Christians, we are carriers and couriers of Christ. We are filled with Christ so we can spill Christ on others. We are God’s representatives “on earth as it is in heaven.” We give God a face in the community.
So, what does mature Christianity look, sound, and feel like? Let me share with you readers a human sample of Christ’s example via a true story published in The Prairie Observer. Catch the concept here.
When Wycliffe bible translator Doug Meland and his wife moved into a village of Brazil's Fulnio Indians, he was called "the white man." The term was not complimentary since other white men had exploited them of their lands.
But after the Melands learned the Fulnio language and began to help the people with medicine and, in other ways, they started calling Doug "the respectable white man." Then, when the Melands began adapting to the people's customs, the Fulnio people gave them greater acceptance and spoke of Doug as "the white Indian."
Then one day, as Doug was washing the dirty, blood-caked foot of an injured Fulnio boy, he overheard a bystander say to another: "Whoever heard of a white man washing an Indian's foot before? Certainly, this man is from God!" From that day on, whenever Doug would go into an Indian home, it was announced, "Here comes the man God sent us."
Doug, God’s messenger, broadcasted a loud and clear message – Jesus, God’s love in action. Doug represented, then presented Christ. He was filled to be spilled for others. His actions were consistent with his words. Just like those Christians in Antioch, both who Doug was and what Doug did, were compelling to the people God sent him to serve.
No matter what part of society you participate in or where you are spiritually, here’s your takeaway. Christianity can be described in three short sentences. Royalty is your identity. Servanthood is your assignment. Intimacy with God is your source.
What do I mean by royalty? I’m not talking about royalty in the entitled or exalted sense. I’m talking about your identity. Identity is who you are. You are part of God’s family. You live from significance, not for significance. You live from acceptance, not for acceptance. You live from being loved, not for being loved. By receiving Christ into your heart, you have completed what God started for you.
What do I mean by servanthood? Servanthood is about purpose. As Christians, we serve first and reign later. If you want to be great in God's kingdom, learn to be the servant of all in the church and the world. God saved Christians for the world, not just from the world. Remember, to the world, you might be one person, but to one person, you might be the world.
What do I mean by source? First, realize that it’s impossible to be a Christian or do Christian service by human power. It takes God’s power. God puts into us what God wants out of us. The Spirit of Christ creates messengers with a message. Why? So, God can make connect his message with the audience which is the whole world.
What’s God’s message? The best the world can offer is rehabilitation. What people need is transformation through a new life in Christ.
Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com