Away with your lame excuses – we need to speak out:

If you are a Christian you are commanded to share the good news of the gospel. Obviously our words must be backed up by the way we live, but words MUST be used. Paul made this clear in Romans 10:14-15: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’”

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So in one way or another, the Christian is called to speak. We of course speak about the good news of what Jesus Christ did for lost sinners by his death and resurrection. But there are so many other things we can and should be speaking up about as well.

Many of the hot potato issues of the day should be addressed by believers, and in the public square, whether something like abortion or sexual trafficking. As Proverbs 31:8-9 puts it, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

Sure, not everyone will be an evangelist speaking to thousands of people in a sporting stadium. Not everyone will write books and articles. Not everyone will set up a blog site. Not everyone will have radio and TV ministries. But we all can speak, even if in much more limited and humble ways.

You all have neighbours presumably. Well, start by speaking to them. And pray for them first. As I have shared before, in my twice daily dog walks, I try to pray for all the neighbours as I pass by their homes. Some of them I end up bumping into and having conversations with. Sometimes that can include sharing biblical truth.

Then there are of course family members, friends, and others that you are uniquely placed to speak to. Most of us do not have any connection to your family, to your friends, to your neighbours. So you have a unique mission field right there that none of us have. God expects you to speak.

Again, timing can be crucial, and hopefully you have prepared the way by prayer and intercession. Not every occasion may be ideal for sharing gospel truth. But if you are open to the possibility, if you have prayed, and if you have asked God to open some doors before you, then there can be many great opportunities to speak up.

I have also shared previously about how my personality is not exactly that of being a people person and loving to interact with others, including strangers. But I am slowly getting better in this regard. Indeed, God threw me into the deep end early on.

When I first arrived in Australia and got a job with the Australian Family Association, I received almost no instructions on what to do. The main thing the boss said was that I should try to get into the media a lot. That was it! So I began by writing letters to the editor, putting out press releases, and so on.

It did not take long before many folks in the media knew that I existed, and soon enough they were contacting me on a regular basis. Within a decade or so I had done thousands of interviews and media appearances. Every area was covered: newspaper, radio, television, and so on.

In many ways I became the go-to guy for all things family related, or on moral, social and cultural issues. The media loves controversy, so I was always the token conservative voice, often pitted against an array of leftist voices. So often I stood before a television camera to have something for the 6 o’clock news, or for some current affairs program.

I did heaps of debates, and I had so many appearances in the public arena. I say all this because as I mentioned, I am not exactly Mr Social Butterfly. I am a rather melancholic and misanthropic person, who actually dislikes controversy and the public spotlight. I much prefer to quietly sit at home with a cat on my lap and a book in my hand.

So I always say that God has a great sense of humour. He could have chosen someone who thrives in public and loves to be with others. He could have chosen someone who was photogenic and telegenic. He could have chosen a young articulate, attractive Australian female for the job.

Instead he chose me – an older, American male with no great camera appeal. That is how God so often works. As is often said, God does not call the qualified, but he qualifies the called. Given that there was little in me that the media would desire, I had to depend on God for any chance of success.

In the eyes of the world, I should have been the last person chosen for such a major media role over so many years. I broke all the rules of who you would want to be a media spokesperson. But of course God does not look at appearances, but looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).

He will use those who are willing to be used. He will use those who remain humble before him. He will use those who seek to be obedient. Those are our main qualifications to be Christians in general, and to speak truth in public in particular. Not that I am an expert in any of those areas, but…

I am not saying there is not a place for, say, taking courses in public speaking, or for trying to brush up for your next media appearance, and so on. But your main qualification is the call of God. Your main qualification is that God is willing to use you, and there is a needy world out there that really does need to hear what you have to say.

So even if you think you are the last person who God would ever put in the public spotlight, or have a big role in the media, think again. God may well have someone like you in mind. If you think you are already fully qualified for the job, well, spiritually speaking you may not be! If you think you are not up to the task, you might be the very person God is looking for.

We of course have clear biblical examples of this. Just think of two of the most important spokesmen for God in the entire Bible. Both seemed to think they were not qualified for the job. Both may have had natural weaknesses or shortcomings, but God was able to supernaturally overcome and transcend these things as he used these men greatly.

You likely know who I refer to here. The first of course is Moses. Twice we have a biblical record of Moses protesting, saying he lacks the proper qualifications to be God’s spokesperson. And at least once we have God giving him a stern rebuke. The first passage is Exodus 4:10-17. It says this:

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” But he said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him. And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

And in Exodus 6:10-13 we find this:

So the Lord said to Moses, “Go in, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the people of Israel go out of his land.” But Moses said to the Lord, “Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” But the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron and gave them a charge about the people of Israel and about Pharaoh king of Egypt: to bring the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

The other familiar character is Jeremiah the prophet. As Jeremiah 1:4-10 states:

Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.”

Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me,

“Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.
See, I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms,
to pluck up and to break down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”

Both these men tried to excuse themselves from speaking for God. But God would have none of it. Many of us may also want to make excuses and claim we are just not up to the task. Well, I have good news for you: NONE of us are up to the task. None of us are qualified. None of us are sufficient in and of ourselves.

But God, in order to bring glory to himself, chooses to use the unqualified, the amateur, the nobody. As Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.  But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,  so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

In my book that is very good news indeed. So go, and speak, even if your voice shakes.

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The Unlucky Country - Zimmermann & Moens

Bill Muehlenberg teaches ethics, apologetics and theology at several Melbourne Bible Colleges. His independent blog, Culture Watch, has over 5,000 articles commenting on the major cultural, social and political issues of the day.

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