A bright young Christian just left my office after asking, “How do I prepare myself to be a life-long follower of Jesus?” He’s been practicing the 10 second rule, but has been struggling to have a time of regular devotions. It just felt lifeless and mechanical. But, he really wants to figure out how to think and act like Jesus.
So, I gave him this assignment; “write one of Jesus’ speeches.” “How do I do that, and on what topic?” he asked. So, I pointed him in this direction, “What spiritual, moral, or biblical questions do you have?”
“Well, I have been wrestling with this question lately; is it wrong to listen to certain kinds of music and if so, where do I draw that line?” “Perfect,” I responded. “Start there.” “Do you mean Jesus talks about music lyrics in the Bible?” “No”, I said, “But start with these ideas in mind.”
What would Jesus say?
There are many very clear teachings of Jesus on many topics. But even with those, Jesus often doesn’t give us much guidance as to how Christians actually put them into practice in real life. So, if you want to be a follower of Jesus and teach others to be followers of Jesus, you will want to have a personal position that you hold to with conviction and passion, on all things Christian.
It makes me super nervous when people say things like “Jesus would never listen to that kind of music.” While that could be true, we have to be careful about putting words in Jesus’ mouth on topics he’s never addressed. However, it is possible to say, “based on a number of biblical principles and teachings, and on my observation of people and human nature, here’s what I believe on that subject and why.” When we’re able to articulate a thoughtful, biblical response, it causes people to take the wisdom of God far more seriously.
Where to begin?
1. Write your questions. Make a list of questions you’ve always had about moral, spiritual, theological and biblical issues. (I have a running list that I keep in my Bible and I’m still adding to it.)
2. Pray for wisdom. Before you begin to write or think deeply on a subject, ask God for the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to guide your thoughts, research and writing. “When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide you into all truth.” John 16:13a
3. Research. Begin reading scripture, search the internet, read books and seek out the wisdom of others.
4. Begin writing. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. It also gives me something in the future to refer to when mentoring others and helps me remember why I believe it! So, I begin writing what I’m coming to believe on an issue; however, view my first draft as “wet cement”.
By wet cement, I mean it represents my preliminary thoughts, on the subject. As I write and think I want to be open to the Holy Spirit giving me a new idea or even raising a new question. How many of these new ideas are the Holy Spirit’s or mine? I’m not sure. This is an imperfect process.
As I continue to write, I’m always asking myself questions like, “I’ve been told the Bible teaches that, but does it? Do I really believe what I’m writing? Can I teach this with confidence and conviction? Why or why not?” How does that work in real life? (The School of Jesus chapter in The 10 Second Rule book will give you more direction on this process.) Is this a clear command of scripture, or a “wisdom issue”?
5. Get godly counsel. I often email my first, or second draft to several mature Christians I know for their comments and questions. This serves as a “speed bump” to warn me of ideas I’m having that may not square with scripture. Often their comments force me to re-evaluate or clarify my position. When I’m done, these “papers” vary from a few bullet points to a half dozen pages.
6. Practice your elevator speech. An “elevator speech” is a term used to describe a presentation of an idea you could deliver in the time the elevator door closes until it reaches the top floor. So, I’ll drive down the road and say out loud what I believe on this topic as if I’m explaining it to a friend. My goal is to have a brief explanation that covers the most important points that I can deliver with confidence and grace.
Here’s why having an elevator speech is so critical. When a topic comes up with your family, friends or someone you’re mentoring, and you don’t have a thoughtful, biblical answer, most of us will either remain silent, or just shoot from the hip, quoting something we thought we heard from someone else. Anyone who wants to influence the people around them to think and act like Jesus will want to hold their own personal convictions which are biblical, thoughtful and gracious.
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” I Peter 3:15
Next week, I’ll give you an example of one of “Jesus’ speeches” I recently wrote in response to the question, “Can un-ordained Christians serve communion to their own family, or to a small group of Christian friends, outside of the church?”
Question: What topics or questions do you have that I could help you answer in future blogs?
Following Jesus in Real Life