When I go to Sam’s Club, there are often people there giving free samples of their product. These are given out to entice me to buy the product for myself. Giving out samples is probably a great object lesson for us when we think about our Christian Witness.
In Luke 8:26-39, Jesus comes into the country of the Gadarenes where he finds a man wearing no clothes and living among the tombs. During events, Jesus purges this man of all his demons.
Satan had taken this man an isolated him from the people around him. He made him feel cast out from society. That is what Satan still does today to those he controls. Sin always isolate us; Satan drives us to the solitary places. Sometimes it is obvious and sometimes it is hidden. But sin always isolates us; ultimately it isolates us from God.
But the Demoniac of Gadarenes met Jesus. And the Demons here does what humans have failed to do, they recognize Jesus. They fall at his feet and call him “Jesus, Son of the Most High God.”
But this is not the end of the story. Suddenly, here stands a man in his right mind ready and willing to go with Jesus. But accompanying Jesus is not what He has in mind. In fact, verses 39 and 40 records these words, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him.”
Jesus refuses to allow him to follow him as one of his disciples. But he does give him a commission.
Those today who are saved must share the good news of their rescue. In 2 Kings 7 Ben-Hadad of Aram lays seize to the city of Samaria. The city is completely cut off, and they finally run out of food. The famine is very severe. And just when they needed it most, God acted to destroy the enemy…but the problem was that nobody knew.
Four lepers go outside the city and figure that they are going to die anyway, maybe they can beg some food. And when they get to the camp, it is deserted. And so, they start running from tent to tent, eating the food and celebrating. But then they pause.
2 Kings 7:9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”
It is not right to be given life and then not share the news. Jesus told the demoniac, “Tell how much God has done for you.” Can I do that?
When our friends are in Crisis and something bad happens to them, can I say, “One thing that gets me through is…”
When I run into someone who is dealing with life’s biggest choices, can I comment, “One thing that helps me decide is…”
As people around me are going through changes, drastic life altering changes, dare I speak up and let them know, “One thing that helps me deal with change is…”
After the next shooting or terrorist attack and the folks around me are wondering about cosmic questions, shouldn’t I speak up and say, “One thing that I am sure of is…”
While maybe not all my interactions bring about a formal one-on-one Bible study, can’t I pass out samples? Wouldn’t it be best to invite them to know the unchanging God in a safe, loving environment we know as our church? Maybe we need to see evangelism more like the sample ladies we see at Sam’s Club or BJ’s Warehouse. We need to dole out small bite-size samples of the gospel. What we will find is that many people are not ready for the entire meal, but they are ready for small bit size pieces. And life can have a way of making them ready for a larger meal later.
And so, as we toil the soil together, removing the rocks, pulling the weeds and breaking up the clods, we are preparing hearts to hear the Gospel. As we talk to people, we are doing what the man recovering from his demon possession did. We are going around and telling others, How Much the Lord Has Done for Me. Can we all do that? Of course, we can!
Doug Haught, Minister at Cold Harbor Road church of Christ