(We are celebrating David Faust’s 25th anniversary of writing weekly columns by sharing a few of his favorites. Read the final classic column tomorrow.)
DAVE INTRODUCES THIS COLUMN FROM NOV. 25, 2001: “How do you stay fresh and creative over the long haul? That’s one of the challenges of any long-term ministry—including writing weekly articles for a Christian magazine. It’s not easy to produce creative content year after year about special days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Sometimes it’s difficult to find new angles to explore, but when Christmas and Easter come around each year, I find that I’ve never lost my childlike wonder about the gospel. I’m in awe when I think about how Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, nailed to a cross, and raised from the dead. It’s a joy to share this good news of God’s grace through preaching, writing, or ordinary conversation. After all, God’s commands ‘are not burdensome’ (1 John 5:3).”
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By David Faust
WHAT IS THE most difficult thing Jesus ever told anyone to do? That’s the question I asked an adult Bible study group the other day. The people in the room were quick to respond.
“Love your neighbor as yourself,” one woman immediately exclaimed. “That’s hard to do.”
“Take up your cross and follow me,” said another. People nearby nodded their heads.
One man called out, “What about when Jesus told the rich young ruler, ‘Go, sell all you have and give it to the poor’?” A murmur of agreement swept across the room.
Soon we had generated a long list of Jesus’ challenging instructions.
“Pray for your enemies,” one woman said.
“Don’t worry about tomorrow,” another man piped up.
Someone else cited Jesus’ comment, “Any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).
I added, “What about when Jesus said, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations’? That’s a hard command—to take the gospel to the whole world!”
Again, everyone nodded in agreement.
“But there’s a tougher command than that,” I said. Now everyone looked puzzled. “Actually, Jesus gave this difficult command on several different occasions, and it must have been incredibly hard to obey.”
Curious eyes stared back as I went on.
“Remember the time Jesus healed a man with leprosy? The fellow must have been overwhelmed with joy when Jesus touched him and healed his skin. But then the Lord said, ‘See that you don’t tell this to anyone.’ What a hard command to obey! In fact, the newly-cleansed leper didn’t obey. Despite Jesus’ instructions, he ‘went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news’ (Mark 1:45).
“And what about the time when Jairus and his wife were grieving the death of their 12-year-old daughter? Jesus took the girl by the hand and said, ‘My child, get up!’ and immediately she stood up alive again. Luke 8:56 says Jesus ‘ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened.’ Now, that’s a hard command to obey! Jesus had raised their daughter from the dead. They must have been filled with wonder and gratitude. How could they not tell others what had happened?”
I pointed out several other examples. After Peter confessed his faith in Christ, “Jesus strictly warned his disciples not to tell this to anyone” (Luke 9:21). The long-awaited Messiah had come, and they couldn’t tell anybody about him! After Jesus was transfigured on the mountain, he instructed his disciples, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead” (Matthew 17:9). They had seen Jesus’ face shining like the sun while he conversed with Moses and Elijah—but for awhile, they had to keep it a secret. At that point in Jesus’ ministry, too many people misunderstood his messianic mission. Too many were looking for an earthly king instead of a spiritual Savior. Too many enemies were plotting to kill him. So, for a few more months at least, Jesus wanted his disciples to keep his identity quiet. But after he died on the cross and rose from the dead, all his followers were free to shout the good news from the housetops!
Sometimes we act as if it’s hard to tell others about Christ. But if you’re convinced he’s the promised Messiah, the hope-giver who has truly changed your life, it’s far harder not to tell others about him. As Peter said in Acts 4:20, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”