Sunday, June 24, 2018

displaying the pearls -- part 3

The Word for today:
1 Peter 5
“Why do you believe in Jesus?”
Someday (if it hasn't been asked already) somebody is going to ask you that question. When they ask it, you will know whether they are sincerely wondering about your faith, or whether they are picking a fight.
If they are just looking for an argument, don’t waste your breath. Jesus said not to throw your pearls before swine (1). So, keep your pearls in your pocket.
But if the question is sincere, we should be ready to display our pearls, so to speak:
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (1 Peter 3:15)
A couple days ago, in part 1, we used some whimsical examples to arrive at this serious conclusion:
“Believers are often less prepared to answer questions and objections about our faith in Jesus than real estate salespeople are prepared for the objections they face. So we hope to see you tomorrow, when we’ll offer some specific ways that we can be prepared.”
Yesterday, in part 2, we prepared to respond with our heads:
1. Be able to tell the Good News.
2. Do not leave Jesus on the cross!
3. Point to prophecy (pre-cross)
4. Point to history (post-resurrection)
5. Point to the differences Jesus has made in you.
Today we bring our testimonies to a grand finale, as we reach into our hearts to…
6. Display your pearls.
This part of your testimony is unique, known only to you, so I cannot specifically direct you. But I can leave you with a few examples of what “pearls” might look like.
First, an example from my own heart…
I’m a storyteller who spent his life looking and listening for the Story that, I was certain, just had to be out there…somewhere, if only I could find it. So for the longest time I looked and listened, but nothing that I read or heard could fill my heart. Years and years of fruitless searching left me so discouraged that I began to think that maybe the Story had never been told. But I kept going until, one day, I found it hiding in plain sight, in a book that had always been there on my shelf.
It seems I had to read every story in the world to find the one so good it has to be true; the one so good and true that my heart is too small to contain it all.
That's the "pearl" my life has formed. Yours, of course, will look a bit different. My pearl formed around what happened in my life, but I've heard of pearls that formed around what didn’t happen! I know a man whose relationship with God coalesced around a sentiment he'd first heard in a rock 'n roll song!--
”God only knows what I'd be without you.” (2)
Finally, from the heart of Connie Jo (a Stand in the Rain reader from a state far, far away) comes a distillation of every “pearl” ever formed. In response to part 1 of this article, she wrote via Facebook:
“It’s because I'm in LOVE with Him. That’s why I believe :)”
Connie’s pearl of great price is the essence of all our testimonies. So if you’ve got many pearls but you can’t decide which to display, show ‘em that one!
And if you haven’t formed a pearl yet, you can borrow Connie’s for a while, until you’ve got one to call your own. Believe me, she won't mind, even if you never give it back.
(1) Matthew 7:6
(2) “God Only Knows,” by Brian Wilson and Tony Asher from “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys, 1966.

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