Preaching the Walk; Walking the Preach

2 Tim 4:2 (MSG), I can’t impress this on you too strongly. God is looking over your shoulder. Christ himself is the Judge, with the final say on everyone, living and dead. He is about to break into the open with his rule, so proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple.

2 Tim 4:2 (Amp) Herald and preach the Word! Keep your sense of urgency [stand by, be at hand and ready], whether the opportunity seems to be favorable or unfavorable. [Whether it is convenient or inconvenient, whether it is welcome or unwelcome, you as preacher of the Word are to show people in what way their lives are wrong.] And convince them, rebuking and correcting, warning and urging and encouraging them, being unflagging and inexhaustible in patience and teaching.

You can read the article that follows, or, you can watch my video on this message HERE.  The video is just a tad more spontaneous and natural, lasting about 15 minutes.
 

I read a saying the other day that is apparently shared among some Christians that I have been led to understand is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” My understanding of this phrase, as interpreted by those Christians familiar with it, is that it means that are to live God’s truth before others without actually having to explain it, and that this, by itself, is sufficient to fulfill God’s command to “preach the gospel.” But, if you have to because people just aren’t getting it, then go ahead and use words to share the Gospel. I have personally listened to others teach or say to other Christians that all we need to do is live Jesus out in our lives and this, in itself, will preach the Gospel, that people will be curious about you enough that they will either wonder among themselves or ask you directly, “What is it about you that makes me want what you have?”.  As I was reading Second Timothy 4:2, this verse seems to contradict that understanding, but at the same time, I want to be very cautious and do not want to neglect or understate the importance of how we live and conduct ourselves, both in private and around others. Of course, our lives should never detract from God’s Word and our message. Indeed, the Christian is called to live in such a way as to make the gospel attractive as we are reminded in Titus 2:10 where we are told “to show that they (meaning we Christians) can be fully trusted, so that in every way they (meaning we Christians) will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” (NIV). But, ultimately, if the Word of God is to be proclaimed, we must use His words.

When I was working for the ministry at Wycliffe Associates (love that ministry by the way), there were plenty of people working for the ministry that I would not know were Christian if they were not working in that environment (I can unfortunately include myself in that category). However, there were two men, in particular, that simply projected love – there was something about them that said “I love you”. I wanted what they had and I wanted to be like them. Without even speaking, these two guys just exhibited love – something that is very difficult to explain. I spent as much time as I could around these guys, hanging out with them in their office and talking with them. I wanted to know them and be around them, I wanted to soak in what they were projecting.

What these two men had to share with me is in complete alignment with how they carry themselves in their character and behavior; that aura they projected that was easily sensed and felt. It was amazing, but yet, it also caused me to wonder what was wrong with me, laying subtle seeds of doubt. Why can’t I be like them? Why can’t I present myself, in a way, that people can simply feel the love that I have for the body?  I was not jealous or prideful, but I suppose there was envy. Because, I knew, without a doubt, that this is what Christ wants for all of us and I did not feel that I had it. After leaving Wycliffe in 2018, I can honestly say that I really miss these two guys more than others.

I have been around A LOT of people who are very charismatic, people that I trust completely, but this is different. I don’t want to downgrade what other people have as far as their anointing is concerned as we are all different, but I can honestly say that I have never been around other men like these two guys. As I read through 2 Timothy Chapter 4, these two were immediately illumined in my heart and in my mind. These guys did preach the Word as Paul tells us, but they were also living it – at least when I was around anyway. So, in the meantime, what do to? 

I have decided that the path for me is to continue to immerse myself in His Word. I will continue to bear my heart and talk with others. When people engage with me, it is very apparent that I have a lot of passion, that there is a lot in my heart – even if they are perhaps taken a little aback by my very verbose and fast talking. I talk very fast which is why I am very intimidated about doing video or podcasts. But, what I can also say, with complete sincerity, is that I never feel as alive as I do when I am sharing my heart, and Jesus, with others.  I don’t know how I feel about the thought of me “preaching” as the Scriptures discuss as I am not a Pastor, but I am very comfortable with the thought of “sharing” what the Scriptures illumine to me – even if very pointed and directed. As we learn how to share the Gospel, at a minimum, is it ok that we, as His disciples, practice?  Not practicing the action of talking, though that is important; I am talking about practicing to listen – listening for what the Holy Spirit is telling you. Sometimes we may miss it, but over time, we get it and, over more time, the process gets easier.   This is very similar to what they teach regarding the gift of prophecy – we need to practice2 Tim 4:2 (Amp)

We need to practice because the process of preaching and teaching of the Word can have a life changing, yoke destroying effect on peoples lives.  The Word of God breaks down strongholds, releases the supernatural power of God, and transforms minds and lives as it changes external destinies. And perhaps one day, the Word of God will pour out of us, even when we are not speaking, it is simply by our presence.

Which, is a good transition back to 2 Tim 4:2,. As we read this verse, we may tend to believe that this is only applicable to the pulpit. But this is not what Paul says. As I had alluded to earlier, the word “preach”, from the original Greek, means to “publish or proclaim openly.” When Paul tells Timothy to preach the Word, the idea of a formal setting behind a pulpit or in a church service is not present. Nor does it connote a certain style of speech—“preaching” vs. “teaching” vs. “normal conversation.” In the context of 2 Timothy, any presentation of the truth of God’s Word is “preaching.” Therefore, any Christian can and should do this. So, I guess I should take back my original discomfort of with me in the action of “preaching”. Perhaps some of you should as well.

The Word can be proclaimed by books, magazine articles, and email. I am not a fan of bumper sticker meme’s, but the Word can be proclaimed through Facebook posts and Tweets. The Word can be proclaimed through music and the visual arts. The Word can be proclaimed by a get well card to a sick friend.  The Word can be proclaimed by men, women, and children of every age and station in life. And, yes, the Word can and should be proclaimed when the church gathers together for corporate worship (whether the pastor “preaches” from behind a pulpit or sits on a stool and “just talks” to the congregation – fyi, our Pastor does this and has been well received). All of us are responsible to preach, that is, to communicate God’s Word to others in whatever situation we find ourselves in with whatever tools of communication we can muster.

The verse goes on to tell us that we should be ready to do this when it is convenient and when it is not. Perhaps one of the most convenient times is when faithful church members have gathered to hear their pastor “preach.” Perhaps one of the most inconvenient times is when a group of co-workers are gathered around the water cooler. Even when it is inconvenient, we must proclaim the Word with “great patience and careful instruction,” even when the situation calls for rebuke.

Therefore, if I want to be like the two men from Wycliffe, who poured out the Gospel simply by their very presence – then I need to constantly be in the Word, strive to always live it out, and I need to always be ready to “preach” and “communicate”, no matter the time and no matter the obstacles placed before me. Today, that is via the books that I have written and am writing, the articles that I have written and the articles I will write, and via the video’s I have done and the videos I will do. The rest of it, is up the Lord, for as Paul instructed Timothy, I intend to stay put and remain at my post, just as any soldier of Christ should do. Thank you for allowing me to practice sharing Him. For practice is how the Lord is preparing me, and you.

This preaching of the Word is necessary because “the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths” (verses 3–4). People normally tend to be comfortable with falsehood, and Timothy must combat this tendency by being ready at all times to preach the truth, that is, to preach the Word of God.

How this can apply to the everyday Christian who does not have the opportunity to preach in a church service. The answer comes from a proper understanding of the word translated “preach.”

 

One thing is sure: as you determine to remain faithful to your divine call and to the place where God has assigned you, He will empower you with inner strength that enables you to see it through to a glorious conclusion!