Takin’ it to the street….

Though faith in Jesus has made us aliens in worldly estimation, so God has positioned us to show forth His Son, “not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (I Cor. 2:4).

               Can anyone remember this? “Say one more word and I’ll scream. Show me now!” (from Eliza in the 1964 classic movie My Fair Lady starring Audrey Hepburn and Rex Harrison). This sums up the sentiment held by so many students-in-class, speech-listeners-for-exams, excuse-makers-before-Mom or Dad, perhaps the U.S. Congress, etc., etc. Some like to blabber just to listen to themselves multiply words. But get ready for a shock: if you really want to get to know somebody, words are not enough . . . if you ask God. One time Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them” (Matt. 7:16, 20), whereby we understand that knowing someone requires more than just judging their words, or weighing their actions: we must also discern the environment these bring.

                Catch this in the narrative about our Lord in Luke’s Gospel in chapter 8:1, 2 – “And it came to pass afterward (i.e. after ‘a woman in the city which was a sinner, who also anointed his feet with ointment and with her tears’ – an environment Jesus made), that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna . . . and Susanna . . . and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance” (emphasis mine).

               Note that Jesus wasn’t just ‘preaching’ but also ‘showing-the-glad-tidings’ of the kingdom of God. Or if you prefer, the Greek Text has this four word English phrase in just one word, εὐαγγελιζόμενος, a present active deponent participle, in the nominative case, masculine in gender, singular, and as adverbial it describes the circumstance of the verb, how ‘he went throughout every city and village,’ which he did by preaching and showing the good news of the Kingdom of God. And “showing” could be roughly translated if we’re allowed to do a little inventing in English, good-news-ing the kingdom, or demonstrating the Good News, which he did in the heavenly ecosystem of healing and driving out devils.

               So we could say that Jesus was presenting the kingdom of God in word (‘preaching’) by also demonstrating (‘showing’) what happens when God’s rule and reign touch earth. And he wasn’t doing this just here in Luke 8. Interesting. And it raises many questions, like: Should this be our model also? In what sense should it not be our model? More specifically, should we understand that this model of the ministry by Jesus in ‘preaching and showing’ is obsolete, altered or lessened by the Resurrection and the Out-Pouring of the Spirit, or by the Scriptures themselves so as not to apply to us? Would anyone even be interested in a gospel that when preached did not produce signs and wonders? Would they sense a certain something was missing?

                So I’m asking again, would God want us to present Jesus like this, in a culture of signs and wonders? Since one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is “the working of miracles” (I Cor. 12:10), should we conclude that a miracle today would be a contradiction or a confirmation Scripture? If we think it’s okay to delete the ‘showing the Good News’ for today, are we denying the narrative of Luke, saying it has no bearing on our presentation of him? Can we justify a gospel that has no ‘showing’? Is that ‘another gospel’ that has no grace to heal and deliver (Gal. 1: 6)?

               On the other hand, what would ‘preaching that brought an environment of healing’ look like? (Acts 14:9-10). Isn’t this so far beyond me! How can I ever get hold of it? And if this is his pattern for me, how can this working of the Lord get hold of me? Doesn’t the working of miracles demonstrate the goodness of God, which is what the grace of our Lord is all about? Wouldn’t that generate faith exponentially in his power to save? And if healing were the context or backstory or the hubbub going on in the background and interrupting the service, wouldn’t that enhance the preaching of the Gospel? Didn’t Jesus think so?

               And moreover, wouldn’t he want us to expand where preaching and healing could happen, not just in a church meeting, but everywhere we go, just like Luke reports Jesus did, in ‘every city and village’? Since the secular culture defies us to stay behind our stained glass barrier and views Christ as a threat to society, it’s okay with Jesus if we present him in a culture of healing everywhere we go, like to the auto parts store, the bank, the market, where spontaneous works of power could accompany our preaching, even if we are a bunch of nobodies? (cf. Acts 5:12). Do you get the idea that you can’t do this without him, but you don’t want to do anything less? Did he intend for you to duplicate his ministry of healing? (John 14:12). Did he go to the Cross so that you could get his Spirit, not only to be saved but also to demonstrate him? Or would you be bored out of your mind to work with him like this? And now, how will you start?

Tim Halverson

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