If you’re familiar with the social app Tik Tok, you might know a thing or two about the challenge Tell Me Without Telling Me, started by the now world-famous Gwenna Laithland. Gwenna (a.k.a @mommacusses on Tik Tok) first threw a challenge for parents to come up with ways of making their audiences aware that they had children without really saying they had children. So the videos poured in, ranging from messy homes to ingenious childproofing, to prove that they had young ones.
Doubtless, more variations of the challenge have been showcased in what is now by far one of the top 2021 trendiest challenges. But, supposing we asked Christians to do the challenge and do videos to ‘tell us who they are without telling us’, what do you imagine we would get in response? How would you best explain a faith that spans two millennia and a redemption plan that has existed for all eternity in the mind of God in a thirty second Tik Tok video? Maybe take a short video of yourself praying at church? Or perhaps capture a moment when you’re out on the streets giving alms or even preaching? Would this truly suffice?
Tell The World You’re a Christian Without Telling Them
The Son of God was not one to issue challenges; he gave commands. So Christianity did not become a global religion overnight, riding on the wings of popularity and aided by the powers of the internet. It grew slowly (Mark 4: 30-32) like a mustard seed, and you might add painfully. Among the many things that convicted all who came into contact with Jesus’s disciples and had been destined for salvation into believing was the disciples’ faithful obedience to the new command, “…love one another” (John 13:34-35). As heavily as Christianity depends on ‘telling’ for its spread, the believer’s authenticity would be seen first in the love shown to fellow believers and then second to the unconverted audience. This love was self-sacrificial, the height of it seen in what Jesus would do soon after: laying down his life for his friends (John 15:13).
Reflecting on Church history, Tom Nelson comments thus, “There was a transforming nature of the gospel. People’s lives were absolutely revolutionised, and particularly they loved each other“. The lament of the pagan emperor Julius the Apostate (AD 331 – AD 363) over “Atheism” (what Christianity was then called because it denied the gods) gives a good glimpse into what made the Christian faith so unstoppable. However harsh the persecution ruler after ruler unleashed upon it, the loving treatment that Christians rendered to strangers and their care for the burial of the dead astounded many. “It is a scandal that there is not a single Jew who is a beggar and that the godless Galileans care not only for their own poor but ours as well,” the exasperated emperor lamented.
Luke recounts that the believers were of one heart and mind, gladly and radically sharing their possessions (Acts 4:32). That has got to be the oneness we must pursue as Christians, for the world will not know we are Christ’s sheep any other way.
But Tell The World!
To the Christians who are persuaded of the radically misleading statement by St.Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words,” Genna’s challenge is but the hallmark of Christian evangelism. We are to let our lives do the talking, hoping that unbelievers will see enough to believe. But who would ever possess a faith that only “comes from hearing” (Romans 10:17) that way?
Even though he was the epitome of self-control, goodness, kindness, justice, honesty, generosity, humility, all righteousness, Jesus did not just ‘let his life do the talking’, but he went about teaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom (Matthew 4:23). And of the disciples, he required no less, charging them to make disciples of all nations and teach them to obey everything he commanded (Matthew 28:10-20).
God has ordained that men will believe in his Son Jesus through hearing the good news of his Kingdom. Indeed how will anyone “call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).
As Christians, we should never suppose anyone will come to the faith without God’s word, which alone pierces the bone and marrow (Hebrews 4:12) being preached to them. The power of salvation is not in our lives but in him, whose words are life (John 6:68). All we can accomplish with our living is but to verbalise the gospel (Titus 2:10), which alone is the power of God unto salvation to anyone who believes (Romans 1:16a).
A Command That Endures Through Eternity
It is just a matter of time before the next Tik Tok challenge supplants Genna’s Tell Me Without Telling Me at the top of the charts. But the command to love one another will live on to eternity, sustained by the power of the Spirit of Christ without whom we can do nothing (John 15:5). This commandment is, of course, not burdensome (1 John 5:3).
If the good news should reach a lost world by thy feet, blessed indeed are thy feet (Romans 10:15; Isaiah 52:7). Whatever it takes, tell this dying world of the Lord of life. We do this knowing that our victory is assured and our reward, eternal. What God has prepared for us, no eye has seen, and no ear has heard (1 Corinthians 2:9). Though the ears of the world be dull enough to call you intolerant and persecute you in all forms imaginable, tell it anyway, for fewer things can be as pleasurable as suffering dishonour for the sake of the Lord’s Name (Acts 4:41).