The Art of Saying the Wrong Thing at the Right Time

I stink at evangelism.
Seriously. I’m no good at it.
On hundreds of other topics, I speak with passion and eloquence but as soon as I open my mouth to say the name of Jesus, it comes out sounding like “cheezits” or some eighteen syllable mutation of Jesus’ name.
It’s as if as soon as I speak His name, someone knocks the wind out of me.
I’m not ashamed of the Lord, not by any means. And I’m completely convinced of the truth revealed in Scripture.
My problem is my fear of saying the wrong thing.
If I’m talking about any other topic, the stakes are nothing compared with what’s at stake when I’m explaining my faith to someone.
So I tiptoe into the conversation like a linebacker in a roomful of Hummel figurines lined with C-4.
Jesus had no such issues.
He perfected the art of saying the wrong thing at the right time.
Right out of the ministry gate, Jesus demonstrated that He was no crowd-pleaser. In Luke 4:14-15, it’s written “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.”
That’s what you want if you’re running for God, right? Everyone’s praise.
He stood up then and taught in His hometown synagogue. By verse 22, Luke says: “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.”
He owned the crowd at that point. He had them in the palm of His hand. And since He had God perceptions, He didn’t need to hire a polling firm to tell Him that His numbers were way up.
But then He kept talking.
He had more to say and gave no consideration to popularity or influence as a factor in His word choice so that by verse 28, the crowd is – well –
 ready to kill Him.
“All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.”
Jesus did this over and over again. He’d draw a huge crowd and then He’d say something so challenging they’d walk away in droves.
Not the way to get elected or develop a following to form a world-wide religion but that’s not what He was doing.
That’s because it’s never been a numbers game with God. He’s not into drawing crowds and He doesn’t need electoral votes. He’s very secure in His position and He doesn’t need crowds to believe in Him in order to exist.
He isn’t about popularity because He’s about fearless love that only speaks truth –
truth without spin, truth without show, truth without self-consciousness, truth without pause or hesitation or awkward stumbles.
His love was so self-less, He was willing to sacrifice His popularity to tell the truth of it.
And therein lies my problem.
I still love myself more than the hearer.
So, if I find the courage to tell you the truth about Jesus and I speak clearly and well, you can know that my love for you has surpassed my fear of saying the wrong thing.
If I still stumble, it is a failure of love on my part.
I may still say the wrong thing – to your ears – but the right time to hear the truth is now.
Because the truth remains that Jesus is the only way to salvation.
To be like Jesus, we must be willing to say the wrong thing at the right time. Because often it’s the most loving thing we can do.

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1 Comment

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  1. “He isn’t about popularity because He’s about fearless love that only speaks truth –

    truth without spin, truth without show, truth without self-consciousness, truth without pause or hesitation or awkward stumbles.”

    I love this, Lori! Awesome! I, too, hope that I can speak the right thing at the right time and pray that when the wrong thing comes out, God works it for His good.