Not long ago I was about to hop an Uber cab in Detroit when I got a prompting from the Lord.
He seemed to be saying, “I want you to talk about Jesus in the first ten seconds of this ride.”
Ten seconds isn’t a lot of time.
The driver greeted me outside his car and stowed my bags in the trunk. Tom was a large man of a different ethnicity than me.
Inside the vehicle, Tom eyed his new passenger in the rearview mirror. “Ann Arbor?”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m headed to the University of Michigan to tell graduate students about Jesus . . . Tom, that’s all I’ve got in my life. Nothing else matters . . . How about you?”
We talked about spiritual matters the entire half-hour trek to Ann Arbor.
* * *
I tend to be bolder than most Christians in talking about faith. But even for me, naming Jesus in the opening minute is a bit extreme.
This incident reminds me of how bashful Christians are about saying the word Jesus in conversation. I suppose we’re worried about offending, imposing, or awkwardness. Or about the perception out there that the church is hypocritical, judgmental.
So we keep our heads down, mouths closed, preferring to preach Christ silently with our actions.
* * *
In the first century, Christians suffered mightily for refusing to worship the emperor and the approved Roman gods (nor did most synagogue-goers appreciate Christians).
Yet, the Jesus movement spread throughout the Mediterranean world.
Silence was not a main strategy.
Rather – love, bold witness, and the power of the Holy Spirit fueled their efforts.
* * *
I wonder where I’d be right now if the early church hadn’t done its job, if the book of Acts had never happened.
Certainly, I wouldn’t be Christian. The news about Jesus would never have gotten out of Palestine. There’d be no Reformation or the likes of C.S. Lewis, Dorthy Sayers or MLK.
There’d be no church for you or me to attend.
And I, being of European descent and spiritual heir of John Wesley, would have missed the gospel entirely.
It makes me wonder about future generations, how they will hear the name of Jesus – if we don’t make him explicit.