Listen for the Hope in Others
Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. -I Peter 3:15-16
The verses above serve as my go-to text when preaching/teaching about evangelism. Evangelism for me tells stories about grace, mercy…hope! About how my life has been transformed because of God’s love for me. So why am I thinking about it today? Because God utilizes so many people to evangelize me by giving an accounting for the hope that resides in them. To cause me to look inside myself to find hope in dark times.
As the song I sang with the children on Easter states, Daily news is so bad it seems the good news seldom gets heard; get it straight from the Easter people, God’s in charge, spread the word! When I listen, good news bombards me daily. Christian or not, I perceive Christ-like motivations in the actions of people all around me. Let me share three recent examples:
- Experienced, hardened, and esteemed journalists, David Brooks (conservative) and E.J. Dionne (progressive) have been tag-teaming on the radio for decades. First one, then the other comments on an issue, usually from quite opposing viewpoints. I savor their wisdom, often exclaiming (usually to no one), “Brooks and Dionne for Presidents!” They regularly air their deep policy differences on matters. NEVER ONCE have I witnessed one belittling or demeaning the other. In normal times, they broadcast from a studio together. Not now. A few weeks ago, the radio host asked them in their separate locations if they had anything personal to say to the other. Profound expressions of mutual love and appreciation flowed easily from their battle-toughened lips. I was moved to tears.
- A radio story (Sorry, I’m a radio guy.) highlighted a couple waiting on the birth of their first child. C-19 necessitated a c-section delivery. The mother was found to be C-19 positive; the father and newborn not. So new mom was isolated at home; and dad became DAD!!! Not the plan that they imagined. The love and determination and ingenuity of the couple rushed like a flooding river from my radio. So did the tears from my eyes.
- I was listening to the radio (surprise!) this morning and heard of two long-term, from-childhood friends, one white and one black, who became best buds when such alliances were challenging, even dangerous. They both ended up in healthcare occupations, now serving C-19 patients in different places. We were privileged to eavesdrop on their e-chat. They shared dangers, worries, and satisfactions. Neither was surprised that they both had dedicated their lives to help others. Their thirty-plus years of love and support for each other came through my Sony loud and clear. Guess what happened to me? Yep, more tears.
Life ain’t so great right now. All the for-real feel-good stories don’t change that. I am really appreciating the stories of hope elbowing their way into my awareness. I hope you take the time to hear and see them, too!
Prayer: God of hope, cause us to stop navel-gazing long enough to be inspired by the stories of hope and love erupting from lives of those around us; for Jesus’s sake. Amen.
Blessings, Pastor Zomermaand