Weekly Thought – April 17, 2018
Fred’s “Don’t Duck” story influenced many at a men’s retreat in California. A few weeks later he received an envelope filled with buttons graphically designed to send the message with a bar drawn through a duck. Years later the illustration still lives.
The Influence of Identity
My friend Ray Stedman said he was struck when reading Michael Green’s book, Evangelism in the Early Church that first century Christians influenced their world for Jesus Christ more than believers do today. Their world was more openly hostile to Christianity than ours. They were fewer in number, did not hold powerful positions, did not have our technology or financial holdings, yet in thirty years spread the story of Jesus from Jerusalem to the capital of the Roman Empire. Today in the 1980s Christians have more established rights, are greater in number, and hold some of the most influential business and political positions in the land. Greene stated that their influence seems stifled and anemic by comparison.
Stedman said Greene believed the first century Christians were rooted in their identity. They were sojourners on their way home. The reality of eternity was the filter through which all of their thinking was channeled.
Too often we identify as American Christians (or even as narrowly as Texas Christians). Our focus is not on eternity, but on our piece of earth.
One of the most delightful men I know is Ron Ritchie of the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, CA. He is one of the least likely people you would pick in a crowd as a preacher. He told me he got tired of being isolated by calling himself a preacher. He finally arrived at a clear answer when asked “what do you do?” “I tell people about Jesus if they want to know.” Then he shuts up and lets the Spirit take over. He has had some fascinating experiences.
I am not one to buttonhole people to “tell them about Jesus.” However, I have found an interesting possibility that the Spirit might use me in some small way on a one-to-one basis. If, each morning, I tell the Lord “today I won’t duck” and that if religion comes up in a natural way in a conversation I will deal with it just as I would any other subject. I have been very surprised how often when I go with a “don’t duck” attitude I end up in significant exchanges.
I have found that if I duck the natural conversations about spiritual matters I can’t make up for it by coming to the church visitation program and calling on three people I wasn’t necessarily led to by the Lord. This won’t make up for ducking the encounters He brought across my path.
I think of this as a stewardship of identity. I can’t get away from the fact that I am a Christian. I believe the Spirit, when we do what we do in the Spirit, has a way of bringing a great deal of light and removing most of the heat.
This week think about: 1) When have I “ducked”? 2) How can I better identify as a Christian? 3) What can I do to steward my Christian identity more effectively?
Words of Wisdom: “I have been very surprised how often when I go with a “don’t duck” attitude I end up in significant exchanges.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.” (Acts 11:26 NET Bible)