In trying to explain anything that is life changing—for example, the compelling story mentioned in the last post—many of us fear that what we say is just too strange, too inexplicable to repeat in public.
The Samaritan Woman’s Story
Yet fear didn’t stop the Samaritan woman Christ met at the well or the man he cured of blindness. “The woman left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, ‘Come see a man who told me everything I have done. Could he possibly be the Messiah?’ … Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me everything I have done.'”¹
The Blind Man’s Story
Nor did fear—even fear of telling a story that seemed too simple to believe—stop the blind man. “One thing I do know is that I was blind and now I see.” He was then pressed for details about what Christ did and how he did it. The formerly blind man replied, “I told you already and you did not listen … This is what is so amazing, that you do not know where he is from, but he opened my eyes.”² The blind man’s life was changed. He had evidence. There was a lot he could not explain, but he was enthusiastically recounting what he could; what he did know.
What is there in your Christian life that you know, that has changed your life and faith so significantly that you can say, “This I know. And what I know makes a difference. Here’s why.” We so easily repeat the things we were taught as cultural Christians, the things we are supposed to believe. But why do we believe them? What about the gospel story is so personally engaging it has stopped us in our tracks? What makes a real difference in the way we describe our relationship to God?
Messengers, Not Minstrels
When we have an answer to those questions—what has made a real difference in our lives? What has stopped us in our tracks?—then we are prepared to be evangelicals in the best sense of the word.
Like the blind man and the woman at the well, you will be eager to share the news that affected your life. Don’t stop short of that. Phillips Brooks, a 19th century Episcopal minister, said we will no longer be content as minstrels who entertain; who tell a pleasant tale. We will feel like the messenger, who rushes breathlessly into a room to deliver information of vital importance.³
For me, the message, the overwhelming experience, was to encounter Christ in the Church—not just in the Bible, as important as that is, or in my “quiet time.” Lifelong questions were answered; language was provided to describe my faith more precisely; Bible verses not explained in my prior Christian experience became clear; seemingly isolated ideas now fit into a coherent whole.
That is Christianity Richly. As the woman at the well said, “Come see.” The next four posts describe my story, the good news of of God’s creating love, Christ’s Incarnation, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Don’t stop here. Read on. “Come see.”
³ The Joy of Preaching, by Phillips Brooks