One of my kids reminded me recently of a phrase I learned years ago from a previous colleague. Speaking of sales, he would share, “Presentation without demonstration is just conversation.” While I found this to be true in sales, I also believe it to be true when communicating our faith.
Some months ago some long-time friends joined us for a celebration. After everyone else had left, they remained to talk about parenting. They wanted to know how they could get their children to obey and show respect like our children. We were honored by the question which gave us an open door to share with the self-proclaimed atheist husband that what we have learned about how to rear children is all from the Bible. He continued to express interest in learning how to be a better parent and was willing to participate knowing that the information would be from the Bible. We have met together weekly for several months now and discussed at length both marriage and parenting. This week they proudly shared with us about a recent trip to visit family. They received praise from grandparents, parents, and siblings for their children’s behavior. They also enjoyed a peace in their relationship that they had not experienced on a vacation trip in some time. They have begun to see the tranformational power of the gospel even though he has yet to embrace the One who transforms.
Paul writes that we are to “be imitators of God.” This is consistent with his letters where we derive much of our theology and praxis. Usually in his letters he will devote a significant amount of space to understanding who God is and the supremacy of Christ. Then the second portion of each letter deals with how we are to practically live our lives because of our proper thinking about God. Understanding our Lord is key to being transformed as we set our “hearts on things above…and set our minds on things above.” The demonstration of the truth of God’s Word is that we are different from the world internally, in how we react to others, in our relationship with our spouse, with our children, and in our work relationships. Paul even ups the stakes stating more than once that others should, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” While this does seem daunting, the reality is that if we are followers of Christ we should look more and more like Him. His transformation of our lives should allow the world to see a radical difference in us. We are to be walking demonstrations of the transformational power of Christ that is consistent with the presentation we are anxious to share. If people do not see a changed life, then our presentation is just conversation–theory rather than practice. (Eph 5:1; Col 3:1-2; 1 Cor. 11:1, Phil. 3:17; Rom. 12:1-2)