That which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1:3
Alexander Maclaren was a British preacher, who was highly acclaimed during the last half of the 1800s. Considerable publicity was generated when Maclaren announced that he would, on four consecutive Sundays, share the basic beliefs of Christianity.
At the personal invitation of Maclaren, a doubting friend promised he would come to church and listen to the message with an open mind. It was a promise he kept.
The day after the fourth sermon had been delivered, the skeptic showed up in the pastor's office and announced he had had a change of heart. By the Holy Spirit's call and power he had become a Christian.
Delighted at the news, Maclaren couldn't help but ask, "And would you be willing to tell me which of the sermons I preached managed to crack your skepticism?"
I have found no record of how Maclaren felt when the man said, "It is quite true that your sermons were logical and beneficial. But they were not the thing which changed my mind. Indeed, the change didn't take place on a Sunday, nor was it within a mile of your church."
The man continued, "One freezing day I was helping an elderly lady navigate an icy sidewalk. As I did she looked up at me and said, 'I wonder, sir, if you know my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is everything in the world to me. I would like you to know Him, too.' The joy I saw in her face was real. It was her invitation which sent me home, and there I prayed, and there the Holy Spirit did His work."
This all goes to prove that the Lord does work through a well-delivered sermon, and He also accomplishes His work through each of us.
Pastors preach on Sundays, but before they ever step into their pulpits the congregation has preached a hundred mini-sermons. Did they smile at the newcomer? Did they extend a welcoming hand? Did they help him find his place in the service? Did they ask if he needed to be shown around? Each of these is a message the Lord uses to convey His love and point people to the ultimate example of love: our Lord and Savior.
This makes me wonder: have you ever turned to anyone and said some version of the words spoken by that little, old lady? Have we ever said that Jesus is everything to us, and we would like the world to know Him, too?
Statistics say that most of us -- for a multitude of reasons -- resist making that invitation.
This is a shame because you just never know when the Holy Spirit might use your words to plant His seed, which will turn a skeptic into a saved soul.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, when the opportunity presents itself, may we share the importance of the Savior with others. May our words and our actions point to Jesus whose life was the price that was paid to ensure we would live forever in heaven. It is in the Savior's Name, I make this prayer. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries