I recently inherited a Cadillac Seville. It's a beauty of a car with all the bells and whistles that were available to the car world in 1995. It's a pretty dark teal color with cream colored leather seats and I must say, that for "an old person's car", as my one son dubbed it, it's quite pretty. I often exit a store or mall and find people admiring it as it sits waiting for me in the parking lot. And even though it is not at all what I would have picked (I'm more the pick up/ SUV type), it has been a tremendous blessing because it has kept us from having to walk everywhere that we want to go.
People often ask me, "where did you get it?" And I can honestly reply "I got it from an old lady who only drove it on Sundays." Invariably, they look at me with an expression that lets me know that they pity me in my gullibility. That statement is the classic, greasy used car salesman's line when trying to sell a piece of junk to someone that he thinks doesn't know any better.
But in this case, I did know better! I got my car from my aunt-in-law, who is notorious for meticulously caring for her cars. So even if we had paid $3,000 for the car, we would have still gotten a great deal! When she said that she didn't drive it much, only on Sundays, I could believe her because through my years of dealings with her, I have come to know that her word is good.
It got me to thinking about words, especially the words that we, as Christians, speak. I've often been convicted by Matt. 12:37 where Jesus warns the preachers of His day "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken." So our "idle" or "useless" words will be judged. Now for someone who likes to talk as much as I do, that is a sobering thought. It made me wonder what people think when I talk to them about the Lord. Do they view me as I view my husband's aunt or do they see me more like the greasy car salesman trying to sell them something that I really don't believe in myself? Do the actions of my life prove my belief in the product that I present when I present them with Christ? And when I present them with Christ, am I using The Word and not my own interpretation?
After talking with students on the near by campus, I have found that most young adults don't put much stock in the words of Christians because organized religion has promised the world a bill of goods that it has not delivered on. We tell them what the Bible says, but we rarely show them. We have, in large part, misrepresented God to a dying world, because we really don't fully know ourselves, by experience, what it is that we are trying to sell them. And yes, sadly, we often make them pay, literally, to hear about the "FREE" gift of salvation.
When I am considering buying a product, I always ask the salesman, "do you have one of these yourself?" I've found that those who do and truly know that it is a good product are much more effective in persuading me to try it. They not only can tell me what's good about it, but also can practically tell me how it operates and what might cause me some difficulty. So when I buy the product I can have some confidence in my decision to purchase it and I'm not discouraged when I run into those difficulties.
We often tell the world that salvation is free...and it is free to receive. But it cost much to keep. When we got that car from the aunt, it was free. But it's not cheap to keep. There was the initial tag and title fee and insurance. Then we had to fill it with gas, which we still do on a much too regular basis! And there are repairs along the way--oil changes, brakes, fluids and the occasional zinger repair that leaves you eating nothing but macaroni and cheese for the next month.
Just telling people that "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" is not enough. It is true that He does love us and has a wonderful plan for us, but it can only be realized IF we first sell out and give all to Him. He is not something that we just "add" to our lives, like a new car is. When we acquire Him, it means that we have lost everything else. We have sold everything we own to have what He has to offer, like the man who sold all he had to purchase the field that contained a great treasure.
This is how we avoid "buyer's remorse." So many people come to Christ with only half the information that they need to truly make a decision about serving Him. Most of the time they come understanding how Christ serves us, but when faced later on with how they are to serve Christ, leave with "buyer's remorse" saying, "that's not what I signed on for!" And in a lot of cases, we present the goodness of Christ without first presenting the wickedness and lostness of man, allowing a man to "accept" Christ without a Holy Ghost conversion. Then, when prayers are not answered, they leave as well believing that God is not real or powerful enough to help them.
So when we speak, we must speak the truth, even if it means that our "pitch" will be rejected. But for those who receive "the words of life", a truly wonderful plan will unfold for them that they could have never imagined. And before we speak, we must fully know and believe and have experience with this Jesus that we are presenting. We don't have to be Bible scholars, only Bible experienced. I know my husband intimately, but I don't know everything He knows. He is way, way, WAY smarter than I. However, I can still present a clear picture of his character and personality to another person so that when they meet him, they will find that he truly is everything I said he was.
It should also be this way when we present Christ. People should be able to know what they are accepting, to understand the terms of that acceptance, and they should experience the power of that relationship through the new birth. And we should be known as people who speak the truth everyday......not just on Sundays.