Two weekends ago, I had the privilege of speaking alongside two other preachers for a Youth Righteousness by Faith Rally in Vermont. At the end of our fourth presentation in less than 24 hours, we had a Question and Answer time where any precious souls who were able to get through the full experience were invited to share their thoughts, feedback, testimonies and questions. The three of us speakers sat in chairs on the stage and responded to the various perspectives.
We were all tired – us as speakers, the audience, and those who were preparing the supper in the gymnasium a few feet away. As I attempted to bring the session to a close, one last young lady – who I had the privilege of pastoring a few years back – asked a very precious and poignant question that stimulated my thinking in the closing moments. We had been talking all weekend about the value God has placed on us, and how we are precious to Him. So in light of this, she asked us, “What do you do when you know someone who doesn’t understand their value to God?”
As she formulated the question, my thoughts started racing to a few biblical texts and intellectual points that would, no doubt, impress anyone with the truth about God’s love and value. I held up the microphone to my mouth and was just about to respond to sweet Amy, when from out of balcony came an interrupting voice. It was coming from the pastor of the church in which we were meeting. He had been in the balcony all afternoon, manning the PA system. “I can answer that! I can answer that!” he yelled down.
Before any of us on the stage could beat him to the punch, he emphatically declared, “The way that you convince your friend that she has value to God is not by quoting some Bible verse, but showing her by your actions that she is valuable to you. This is the way God will communicate to her that she is precious to Him.”
There it was. I was dumfounded – and thankful; and I expressed my gratitude to Pastor Brian. “Thank you so much,” I said, “your answer was so much better than mine would have been.”
I love the Bible. I love theology. I love ideas and concepts. And I think these are all important. But so much more valuable than knowing the right information, the right Bible verses, the right theology, is being the right information, Bible verses and theology. I can sometimes forget that. Sometimes our intellect can get in the way for various reasons when considering various concepts, but the Gospel lived can never be disputed.
And I’m thankful that Pastor Brian saved me – and the whole audience – that day from missing the forest for the trees.