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 (Acts 4:13 NIV).
My back was against the wall; literally against the wall. My heart raced. My eyes searched desperately for an escape route. The small group of people gathered in an ever-tightening circle around me, reading me. One woman read aloud to the others, pointing to the words on my shirt, "He stands at the door and knocks." She giggled and asked, "What does that mean?"
A few years ago I wanted people to know about my new commitment to Jesus Christ. But to my utter frustration, it was quite apparent I was a social misfit. A lifetime of severe shyness had retarded my ability to communicate. How was a tongue-tied person like me supposed to tell others the Good News which filled my heart? I devised a plan. I decided to have Scripture and spiritual messages printed on some of my T-shirts. People would then read them and the wonderful Good News would be shared. I thought folks might ask me about my faith, and I could respond much easier than if I had to initiate the conversation.
"Well, what does it mean?" the giggling lady asked me again. I managed a weak smile, but I just couldn’t speak. "Oh, I get it!" she exclaimed, "You’re a traveling salesman, right?" I shook my head side to side. "Ohhh, okay, now I know!" she said poking me in the ribs. "You stand at the bedroom door and knock." The others laughed at her clever innuendo. I wanted to disappear. She continued, "Ahh, let’s see, you stand at the door of the bar and knock?" The situation was getting ugly. Suddenly, (surely by the mercy of my embarrassed Lord) the group was called away. I made a quick exit.
I’m sorry I didn’t use the opportunity to tell that lady and her friends about the One "who knocks at the door of our hearts." But I still have to chuckle at my naive and ineffective attempt at evangelism. We can write messages on shirts and bumper stickers to witness to the truths of our faith, but a life dramatically touched by Jesus Christ will have a far greater impact.
The book of Acts describes the events which took place when Peter and John healed the lame man at the temple gate called Beautiful. A confrontation with the Jewish leaders ensued because Peter used the occasion to witness to the power of the risen Christ. The Apostles were seized and put in jail overnight. The following day, Peter and John stood before all the rulers of Israel and once again spoke boldly about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Their audience, which had gathered around, was astonished by the courage of these “ordinary” men. They took note that Peter and John had been with Jesus. There was no need for printed shirts or bumper stickers. Peter and John were living messages written by the Spirit of the living God.
The Apostle Paul refers to this in his second letter to the Corinthians: You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ … written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of human hearts.(II Corinthians 3:2-3 NIV).
Have you ever thought of yourself as a letter? Christians are letters written by Christ to the world. Day by day Jesus’ words are written, not with ink, but on the tablets of human hearts. The book of Acts has not ended. His story continues to be written in the lives of “ordinary men and women.”
Our backs are against the wall. The world gathers in an ever-tightening circle around us, reading us. What are they reading? Do people note that we have been with Jesus? Are they astonished by our courage to boldly stand up for the One called Truth? Do they see the presence of the Holy Spirit manifested in our lives?
We are read by everyone. We are all―letters from Jesus.