Last night my wife and I went to see the Nutcracker in Boston with some friends. I got into the set design and theatrics a little more than the ballet, but one thing in particular intreged me about the performance…there were no words. No lines for the actors to recite, no songs that were sung. The only way the story was communicated was non-verbally. I knew this would be the case, but it amazed how they were able to clearly communicate a whole story without saying a single word. The old study that says most communication is non-verbal didn’t apply to The Nutcracker, as 100% of the story was communicated without words.
As I sat there watching the performance a quote attributed to Francis of Assisi came to mind, “Preach the Gospel, and if necessary use words.”
Quite often, we tell the story of how Christ has changed our lives by the way we live out our lives. When we won’t cut corners at work that tells part of the story to our co-workers. When we are the same person at church and at home that tells the story to our family. When we are kind and cheerful that tells the story to our neighbors. How we live our lives often tells more about how Christ has changed us than with what we say with our mouths.
Don’t get me wrong using our words to tell people about Christ is still terribly important. Christ told his disciples to go into all the world and preach. Following that command you see the disciples using their words quite often. Don’t believe me, just read the Book of Acts. The truth is that command wasn’t just for the disciples, it is for us too.
But the disciples didn’t win people over with just their speech. Acts 4:13 states, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” It wasn’t what they said, it was how they said it. They lived their lives with courage and people could tell that they had been with Christ. The disciples talked about Christ a lot, but their speech and their actions matched up. Their actions amplified their speech. Often you don’t see that with Christians. Some will say one thing in church on Sunday morning, but the way the live their lives Monday to Saturday doesn’t back up their words.
Can people tell you follow Christ by the way you live your life? Do you actions match your words, or do your actions give some non-verbal clues that you may not believe the words that are coming our of your own mouth? What story do your actions tell?