Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 10:32d “. . .before men,. . .”
The Twelve’s first short-term mission trip was a brief trial run, seed for a larger harvest, their future worldwide enterprise in microcosm. It set precedents for the remainder of Christian history. One of these epoch, forever unalterable, paradigms was the way followers of Christ are to interact with prechristians.
Since God loves us more than sparrows, and numbers our hairs, we have no legitimate excuse for shirking our duty to confess Jesus, to publicly acknowledge we know Him. It’s all about Jesus. All revolves around Him. He is the crux, the watershed, the message. Confront people with Jesus, controversial though He be.
Never be ashamed to admit our relationship with Jesus. Confess Him “before men,” as if mankind is the jury and we are on trial for being a Christian.
We need to muster enough evidence to be found guilty as charged. For this to happen, we need to deliberate over how we can best confess Jesus before others.
Confess Jesus joyfully. We believers must not respond to life’s burdens as unbelievers do. In poverty, affliction, trouble, and even bereavement, the ways we react must be different. We’re not robots, we grieve when hurt, but can even in the midst of trials display joy. As children of the King, our birthright includes a peace that passes understanding and makes a profound confession before the lost.
Confess Jesus practically. Live the life. Walk the talk. Be the kindest, best, and hardest worker at the office and school. Actions, especially bad ones, speak louder than words. Research indicates satisfied customers talk about their positive experience three times, dissatisfied consumers tell it ten times. Bad news travels at least three times farther and faster than good news. This means when Christians set a good, kind example by their loving deeds, unbelievers tell it a few times, but when church people fall into open sin, the lost broadcast it far and wide.
This is not to say we are to be perfect. Christians are sinners, saved sinners but still sinners. We all stumble in our journey. When we falter, we need to apologize to unbelievers who saw or heard our miscue. Acting “better than thou” hurts our witness, but genuine humility can be an effective confession of Christ.
Confess Jesus verbally. Develop the habit. Say “Jesus” often. Let Him be known. Never blush to speak His name. Every believer is to verbally witness about what Christ means to them. On this first short-term mission trip, the Twelve were to tell what they had seen and heard. Jesus was performing miracles and speaking oracles. God had visited His people. Firsthand experience gave them power and effectiveness. Speak out of the overflow of what we are experiencing. We love Jesus. Say so. Jesus has blessed us. Say so. Jesus is the best thing that happened to us. Say so. John Edie says, tell your faith story, not someone else’s.
Confess Jesus publicly, before everyone everywhere, saved and lost, rich and poor, young and old, good and bad. Faith begins in the heart, but must not end and hide there. Confess Jesus not only at church, but also at home, at work, at school, at play. We must somehow make sure everyone in the everyday routines of our life knows we are a Christ-follower. If Jesus walked with us to the places we regularly frequent, would He see or hear things that give evidence we are His followers? When a repairman comes to work inside our house, are there obviously visible evidences as to what matters most in this household, do religious paintings adorn the wall, is a Bible or other Christian literature visible on the coffee table?
At the fitness center, do they know we are Christ-followers, have we invited others to church, do we wear a symbol of faith on our person or workout clothes?
At school or work, when someone is having a hard time, do we say, “I’m praying for you”? Over ninety percent of Americans are open to prayer, whatever their faith position. I believe praying for people, and telling them we are doing so, is one of the most effective evangelism tools available to us today in this culture.
Confess Jesus wisely. Do enough to let it be known we follow Christ, but let’s not blow a trumpet and make a nuisance of ourselves. No Green Berets. All research indicates tactlessness has a bad effect in our culture. It turns people off.
Beware bad taste and poor judgment. Don’t lose a job, get expelled from school, or be thrown out of a fitness center. Be subtle. Use jewelry and artwork. Recently I saw in a medical doctor’s office a beautiful painting of Washington kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge. I was impressed. It was world class art, first rate, a fitting tribute to our faith, and also a profound statement regarding the doctor’s value system. At our desk or work station, have among our personal effects a small New Testament. A huge family Bible might be a bit pretentious.
Confess Jesus bravely. Do be cautious, but also realize there will be times when the die is cast and we have to take a dangerous, bold stand. On occasions, not to speak up for Jesus would be a compromise of our relationship with Him.
One day Frederick the Great and his officials began mocking Jesus. One of Frederick’s best officers stood, saluted the king, and then respectfully but firmly said there was a King greater than Frederick and that he never allowed that Holy One to be insulted in his presence. It was a tense moment. All feared for his life, but Frederick accepted the reproof, saying he wished he had a faith that strong.
One night at a lewd party, Sir Robert Peel, who later became prime minister under Queen Victoria, excused himself, saying he had to leave because he was “still a Christian.” In confessing Jesus, don’t be foolish, and don’t be cowardly.
Confess Jesus confidently. As a result of our testimony, some will be saved. Granted, most will not believe, but oh think of the ones who will receive Jesus.
Polls indicate there are often prechristians in our culture more eager to hear the story of Jesus than Christians are to tell it. A leading lady in our church told me she was forty years old before she ever once heard anyone say Jesus loved her.
Our own Ernest Herman tells of Americans who took a mission trip to his native Romania and led many in a village to Jesus. These new believers promptly asked the local churchgoers, “Why had you never told us this good news before?”
Confess Jesus expectantly. To flame our zeal, He gives a blessed promise.
Matt. 10:32e “. . .him will I confess also before my Father which is in
Life as a Christ-follower is not pointless or boring. It is a drama vibrantly lived in two worlds. Heaven notices Earth. Jesus watches our lives, seeing if our deeds give evidence He is our own. He listens to us, hearing if we say His name.
Heaven reacts to Earth. If we here and now tell people, “Jesus is mine,” He will there and then tell the Father, “They are Mine.” If we confess Jesus in this lower world before lesser beings, when it does Him the most good, He will confess us on the best occasion before the greatest Being, when it will do us the most good. The reward for confessing Jesus is much greater than the requirement.
If we share with Jesus the world’s abuse and scorn against Him, the moment of Judgment will be a happy one. Sharing shame with Christ is tough. Jesus made no false promises. He didn’t say He would miraculously intervene for us on earth. There will be rejection. We do have to take ridicule on His behalf.
But someday, when we leave this world’s taunts behind, we will hear King Jesus say, “Stand back, angels! Make way for one who loved Me when My name was scorned, who suffered for Me on earth. Father, I know this one. Before Your throne, in the presence of all Heaven assembled, I confess, this one is Mine.”