God uses simple things to spread the gospel
Over the past six months, as we have transitioned into ministry, I have been struck by this fact: God uses the simple things to grow his kingdom.
When I was young, every year, the day after Boxing Day, my family and I would be found setting up tents at Currarong for ten days of beach mission to the holidaymakers staying in the park. As I watched ministry happen around me and saw evangelism take place, I thought a lot about this process of sharing your faith. The faithful witness of my parents and their friends—year in and year out as they door-knocked and ran crafting events, dinners and the like—was a great example to me of Christians sharing the gospel with those around them.
One year they made the most tangible impact—and it came through a simple fish. My dad was and is a mad-keen fisherman. Spending time in tents during weather extremes was counterbalanced for him by the fact he got to go out fishing. One day, my dad went out on a fishing expedition with another man from the park and he caught a massive fish: the type you take a photo of to remember.
His previously fairly fruitless attempts to lure in the men into discussion immediately did an about-face. This fish drew the men in. Quickly, from across the caravan park, men came out to see it for themselves, chat about the bait used, find out where the fish was caught... and it continued for hours. Men watched the filleting and chatted and then came back to the mission tents to taste it. For possibly the first time, in all those years of ministering at Currarong, men started approaching my dad and relationships began from their instigation rather than his.
God taught me a great lesson through this fish: he will use the simplicity of who we are and ordinary things to bring about his kingdom.
This is seen repeatedly throughout the Bible. God uses tent pegs and stones to bring down rulers; he uses jars and trumpets to bring down nations; he uses the faithful sharing of a church to draw people to himself (Acts 4:32-35). He will use the meal you cook for a sick family, the time you spend talking with a friend, the way you open your home to the new neighbours on your street.
As you do these things, be ready to share the gospel. Helping people know that you head to church on Sunday, that you say grace before a meal, that you would like to pray for your friend who is weighed down with the burdens of life, that you believe Jesus is the answer to our problems; all allow people to see that the practical gift is but a bi-product of living a life for Jesus. John Piper once preached, “We are not called to be microscopes, but telescopes”. No-one comes to a star-gazing event to marvel at the telescope; they come to marvel at the stars. When we use the simple things of our day-to-day lives to minister to the world around us, we need to make sure that the world aren’t marveling at our meal or our willingness to help them. We need to become telescopes, helping others appreciate the one who loved perfectly and sacrificed fully.
I have seen this truth in my own life. Recently I have had the privilege of walking with two lovely ladies as they have come to know and love Jesus. I have seen that it didn’t take lavish events, eloquent sermons or a fabulous apologist for these women to come into relationship with God. Instead, it was Christian friends practically and unapologetically living out their faith and inviting them to church that made these women thirsty to find out more of Jesus, the life-giving water.
For many of us, anxiety over not having the right words may prevent us from saying anything about Jesus at all. I’ve been there, and often find myself slipping back into that thinking—yet it is when I remember the simplicity of the gospel, and the fact that God uses whatever he wills to draw men and women to himself, that I find the courage to open my mouth. I am reminded that we are called not to be ashamed of the gospel, as it is the power to save. It is when the gospel impacts our lives, conforming us into the image of the Son, that our witness shines brighter. When we go out of our way to sacrifice for the sake of the lost, give up our comfortable beds to minister in a caravan park, forgo concerns of a friend’s approval to share our faith over a coffee, then seeds of the gospel are sown.
As we think about the people we are, may we pray for opportunities for God to use the seemingly simple things in our hands to minister to a world in need. My Dad didn’t fish to share the gospel, but he was willing to take any opportunity God gave him to reach people. Similarly, may we bravely share the truth we have, calling people to repentance—and may our message match our lives. For God calls us to use who we are—our interests, our professions, our family situation, our location—to boldly declare the gospel and accompany it with genuine love and care.