A long, long time ago…or Once Upon A Time…well, whatever. About 800 years ago my friend St. Francis of Assisi supposedly spoke these words…
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
This quote is commonly whipped out in conversation or philosophical debate to encounter the brazen, hell-fire-brimstone preachers we see depicted in movies or in my childhood memories. I get the point. We need to live out the Gospel, not just yell it at people. But what is The Gospel without words?
To begin with, not many people believe St. Francis actually spoke or believed this words (sorry to burst your bubble). Christianity Today did a great article on this very history several years ago.
The reality is…If you’re going to proclaim Christ, you need to use words. Words are not devoid of meaning. Words are not just text or letters or 140 characters pondering my own coolness. Remember, Jesus is The Word. So to proclaim the life, death and resurrection of Jesus must involve words forming in our heart and mind and pushing out past our lips; full of breath, full of life. They must be spoken.
I’m learning and asking Jesus to lead my steps of proclaiming Him with all I am and God knows I’m still learning. But if I’m honest, it’s my words that need the most work.
So in 800 years, I hope I’ll be quoted as actually saying:
Preach the Gospel always, with your actions and your words.