Consider two different imaginary retail companies for a moment. The first company is Baguio Lighting Solutions (BLS). The other is Dagupan Lighting and Glass (DLG). Both companies want to sell lights of one form or another. But they have different methods to do so.
BLS is in a big building without windows. Sales people walk around downtown Baguio City and aggressively approach passers-by giving them flyers and telling them why they need to have proper lighting in their houses and lives. If people show interest, they are brought into the store and the lights are turned on to show their products.
DLG, on the other hand, is in a building with lots of windows. The lights are prominently displayed and, particularly at night, the beautiful lighting displays attract a great deal of interest. Salesmen apply less of a high-pressure approach but are always ready and able to talk about and show features of different lights to those who express interest.
Which method is better? Well, that is really hard to say. As far as selling lights, it could go either way. The hard-sell approach definitely works at times. Consider this the Proclamation approach. A lot of talk without much demonstration. On the other hand, the soft-sell approach also works at times… especially if the store is located in a good place. Consider this the Demonstration approach. A lot of demonstration with a little talk.
In Christianity, I believe that the Demonstration approach is the better approach. That is not to say that there is no Proclamation. Some have gone to extremes where a good Christian life is demonstrated with NO proclamation of God’s truth. This is not good. We need always to be able to answer questions regarding what we believe and who we trust (I Peter 3:15). But far too many go the other way. They go into the world sharing God’s truth while keeping the light of God’s love and care hidden “under a bushel”.
Let’s get back to the parable a bit. If both BLS and DLG can be successful with their individual methods, why should one choose one method over the other? I believe the answer is (in part) the number of people who are turned off by a method of proclamation without demonstration. In Christianity, expressing the Word of God without demonstrating the love of Christ looks AKE, CONTRIVED, SELF-SERVING.
It was interesting. I was planning to write this post and then saw a news item about Kurt Warner and Tim Tebow. Both are (although Kurt is retired) successful quarterbacks in American Football and both are committed and outspoken Christians. Tim often is clearly evangelical and evangelistic in his speech. That is great, but Kurt offered some advice. See “Super Bowl Hero Kurt Warner Gives a Little Spiritual Advice to Tim Tebow.” From this article, regarding Kurt,I’d tell him (Tebow), ‘Put down the boldness in regards to the words, and keep living the way you’re living,” Warner told the Arizona Republic. “Let your teammates do the talking for you. Let them cheer on your testimony.” “I know what he’s going through,” Warner told the Republic, “and I know what he wants to accomplish, but I don’t want anybody to become calloused toward Tim because they don’t understand him, or are not fully aware of who he is. And you’re starting to see that a little bit.”
Proclamation is important but should (usually) follow a positive response to demonstration. Christian love should be demonstrated. It should be demonstrated in public, in private, in one’s head, heart, hands, and voice. Caring and serving others (as an expression of love for God and our fellow man) should be foundational to our proclamation… not an add-on.
Some consider social ministry as secondary or even counter-productive. But it is foundational to proclamation.
Look at this page set up by on Biblical Passages regarding Care and Service. This is by Howard Culbertson. Below is also a poem from that page.
Passing The Buck
by Peter Maurin
1. In the first centuries of Christianity
the poor were fed, clothed, and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice
and the Pagans
said about the Christians:
“See how they love each other.”
2. Today the poor are fed, clothed, and sheltered
by the politicians
at the expense
of the taxpayers.
3. And because the poor
are no longer
fed, clothed, and sheltered
at a personal sacrifice
but at the expense
Pagans say about Christians:
“See how they pass the buck.”
- Tim Tebow Gets Sound Advice from Kurt Warner on Dealing with Media and His Faith (bleacherreport.com)