EDITOR’S NOTE: This article originally was written by CRCNA Executive Director Steven Timmermans for The Banner’s April edition in the Our Shared Ministries section before he resigned Feb. 20. It is now an Online Extra.
This month’s “Our Shared Ministry” section highlights people who live with a burden of silence. Many are under the daily threat of persecution, and their silence allows them to protect their neighbors, their families, and even themselves. Others have been living in silence out of a sense of shame or a fear of reprisal if they speak up after surviving abuse.
In all of these cases, I think that we as a Christian community benefit when that silence is broken. While we must still do what we can to protect people’s privacy and safety, when we hear other people’s stories, we can learn from, support, and encourage each other.
The same is true when I think about “The Story” and the ways in which we all could benefit from speaking more often, more boldly, and more broadly about how God is working in our lives.
There is an old hymn called “I Love to Tell the Story.” While this hymn is a little too focused on the future for my taste—“’twill be my theme in glory’” seems to suggest that we wait to tell the story until we are among the “scenes of glory’”—I do love its emphasis on how Christians should be overflowing with a need to tell others about God.
I also think that Jesus himself can teach us a lot about how to do this. While he was on earth, Jesus actively sought out people in order to tell them the story of God’s love. As he did so, he didn’t ignore those on the margins of society. In fact, the tax collectors, fishermen, women, and other marginalized groups were those he seemed to interact with most often.
But Jesus didn’t limit himself to speaking with only these vulnerable groups. Jesus had a message for the rich young ruler and the centurion, too. Jesus has a message for me and for you, for your neighbor and mine. What would it look like if we lived our life as Jesus did?
A few years ago I became a grandparent. It never ceases to make me smile when my grandson runs toward me, full of wonder, tripping over his feet and his words as he eagerly tries to tell me something he has just discovered. What he shares is not always the full story. It is not necessarily fully understood, but he tells it enthusiastically, unable to hold back. Is that the way you respond when you encounter glimpses of God’s grace?
When God reveals himself in nature, when he shows up in an interaction with a friend, when the need for his love is apparent in the community around us, do you overflow with the desire to share the story with others?
Imagine how we could benefit and learn from each other if that was our posture. Even more, imagine how our collective witness could affect others as we all speak, praising God, to the people that we meet.