Why misquoting St.Francis is hindering our witness (@mrblunders)

Francis of Assisi (http://www.flickr.com/photos/garlandcannon/6211035375/sizes/m/in/photostream/)

If I was to say to you the name, St. Francis of Accissi to you. What would be the first thing that came to mind?

Care and nuture?

Prayer? Preacher?

A monk who lived a while back?

Or the famous quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” *

Words & Actions

Now, while I agree with St. Francis, I have been starting to think if actually this sort of quote may not do us any good in terms of our discipleship or our witness.

As a general rule I have heard this quote as an argument against Christians, saying that we use too many words and do not live out our message. I agree that we need to back up our words with our actions, James in his Epistle calls the church to that very point.  But, in the culture we now live in can we really get away with not using words? Or do we need to pay more attention to the second part of St.Francis’ quote?

I heard a story of a youthworker going into a school and using the parable of the lost son as their topic for discussion. The majority of the pupils in that room had no concept of that story, where maybe only a decade or so ago most school attendees would have known the story quiet well.

Tied in with this is the current swing within the Church of Jesus Christ and Later Day Saints to be seen as part of mainstream Christianity. Just the other day I had a visit from two Mormons who used phrases like atonement, creation, sin, redemption, resurrection and yet had a completely different Jesus. One that was far more damaging and deceptive.

Use Words

The world we live in needs to hear the good news of the risen Jesus and I believe it is now necessary to use words. The vast majority of people in the world would say they are  “good people”. Most care about famine, give financially to support children, help their neighbours and get involved in their community.

Why is what we do any different?

We serve Christ and we need to point to Him when ever possible. We can’t on one level out give the world, but what we can do is point them to Jesus.

The real Jesus.

Oh yes, there will be words.

We need to fuel ourselves on the real Jesus and on his word revealed through the Holy Spirit. As we do this we fill ourselves up personally and when we gather, out of this abundance our hearts/fingers speak/type. We will be bursting to tell of Jesus and his Grace using our words.

Our blogs, tweets, facebook pages will be filled with the grace of God through Jesus.

This combats three things;

The version of Christianity that is all rules, is broken by God’s grace. We show that we live our lives with Christ as our Lord, but also as our priest who cares for us.

The understanding that salvation is through works, is blown away by God’s grace.

The picture that God is not interested in this world, is uprooted by the grace shown to us through Jesus.

As we tell our stories, we preach the Gospel, as we live our lives we preach the gospel.It is time to heed the second part of St.Francis’ famous quote and make it obvious to all those around us that Jesus is here. We need to open our eyes to see Him at work.

As we declare his name amongst those we work with, those we do life with, those who are part of our social network.As we elevate Christ, he will draw people to Himself.

So, over to you. How do you go about declaring the name of Jesus? What sort of things should we be avoiding? How much should we be doing on our social media streams?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

Grace and Peace,

Steve

* There is some doubt as to whether or not St.Francis of Assisi even said this. But it is widely reported that he did, so I have accredited it to him in this post.

About mrblunders

Steve Blundell (@MrBlunders) works part time for Living Stones Community Church, Eastbourne and part time as a guitar/music teacher. He reads and blogs quite a bit. Steve loves liturgy, the church, prayer and coffee. He is married to Susie and they have two sons. www.echoingjesus.com