Speaking of Faith: Tell What Jesus Did

By Klemet Preus
How are we to communicate the message of Jesus? What does the Bible say about the way we speak the Good News? Let's test our knowledge of Holy Scripture. Let's take the following true or false test:
Christians share Jesus with others: True or False?
Christians reach out to others with the love of God: True or False?
Christians tell others what Jesus did for us: True or False?
Sometimes I think that we pastors or theologians make things much more difficult or complicated than they are. We talk about sharing Christ or reaching out. Not only are the meanings of these expressions a bit hazy, but they simply are not the way the Bible talks. In the Scriptures God makes communicating the Good News of Jesus very easy. Let's see what the Bible says the answers to the true/false test really are.

Christians share Jesus with others: False

Nowhere in the Bible does God ever say that we should "share Jesus." We are to share our worldly goods with others, share in the sufferings of Christ by suffering for His sake or--my personal favorite--share our wealth with those who catechize us. But the word "share" is not a word that refers to communication. In fact when we talk about sharing Christ it can give the impression that we are giving half of Him away and keeping half for ourselves like when we share a piece of pie. Of course share can mean "inform" like when we share our thoughts or share our feelings, but then "sharing" Jesus becomes so personal we hesitate. It's almost  like "sharing" a secret. There's got to be a better, more biblical word.

Christians should reach out to others with the love of God: False

Nowhere in the Bible does God ever say that we should "reach out" with the love of God. In the Bible the word "reach" is used more literally like when Jesus reached out and grabbed Peter when they were walking on the water. But there the word means more like stretch out, and who ever heard of stretching out" with God's love? In the Bible "reach out" is a description of posture rather than a way of communicating the Gospel. It is true that Webster's dictionary does say that the seventh definition of the word “reach” is "to have influence upon or to impress." And we might say that the governor "reached" millions of people with his televised speech. But, it's not the normal way we use the word "reach" and the Bible never talks this way. There's got to be a better, more biblical word.

Christians tell others what Jesus did for us: True

In Mark 5, Jesus cast some demons out of a man and sent the demons into some pigs. Afterwards the man wanted to go with Jesus, but the Lord said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you." The same word is used of the women who saw the empty tomb and then went and "told all these things" to the apostles. Some of the Bible translations use the word "report" instead of "tell." For example in Acts 15, Judas and Silas "reported" to the churches what the leaders had written. We should tell or report what Jesus has done and what the apostles wrote. Tell your friends what happened.
Why is this so important? It's important to use the word "tell" because God wants forgiveness to be simple. We use the Bible word "tell" because salvation is easy to understand. God forgave the whole world by sending Jesus to live and die for us and rise again. He gives this forgiveness through His Holy Word--whether it is spoken by you, Martin Luther, Paul, or Jesus Christ Himself. It's simple to understand. When we use words like "share" or "reach out" it almost sounds like there is more to it than simply speaking the message of Jesus. We tell our friends that Jesus forgives their sins but we wonder if we have really "shared" Jesus. We tell our friends that Jesus rose from the dead to open heaven, but we wonder if we have really "reached out" to the other person. And we begin to doubt. It's not ourselves we doubt but the Word of God. God keeps it simple because faith should be simple. Someone told you. You believe. You tell someone. God will work through the message of Jesus which you speak.
Forgiveness may be simple to understand and to tell but it was not simple to earn. Jesus had to live a perfect life you were unable to live. Jesus had to carry all of your sins to the Cross. This was not easy. Christ pleaded to be relieved in the garden because this was an unfathomably hard thing He did for us. He carried the heavy load of our guilt to the Cross in His body and suffered terribly for us. He poured out His blood painfully for you.. He suffered for you. He suffered for the people to whom you tell His story. For Him it was unimaginably difficult. For us it is simple: simple to know, simple to tell.
This article was originally published in the fall 2004 issue of Higher Things Magazine.
Rev. Klemet I. Preus was a beloved LC-MS pastor who was described as a "joyful theologian." Preaching the Gospel and delivering Christ's Gifts were his top priorities in this vocation. Besides serving in numerous churches, he also was the president of Higher Things from 2001-2009. He went into the presence of his Father on July 9, 2014.

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