‘You are not your job. You are not the clothes on your back. You are the words that come out of your mouth, so speak up and speak of love’.
An arresting glimpse of truth amid a sea of beer, sweat and skinny jeans. The tattooed words were scrawled across the right shoulder blade of the topless shaven-headed guy in front of me in the festival crowd. Years on, the permanent statement has stayed with me, as if the inked scar-tissue were tattooed somewhere in the back of my mind.
‘…speak up and speak of love’.
The phrase seems almost biblical. Which make sense to be honest, as the bible is full of people who encounter God and are then commanded to speak up, by him and for him. Check Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, (in fact any prophet you can think of) the disciples, anyone who follows Jesus… the list is endless and the stories are exciting to read, especially when you realise we can encounter the exact same God right now.
And the God that commands us to speak is love, in his very being. So unless what you’re saying comes out of love, love for God, through God and therefore out of love for others too, then it’ll come to nothing (1 Corinthians 13).
So speak up, and speak of love.
We are called to speak about Jesus and share the good news about what God has done for us, in every way and all contexts, no matter whether we think we are an “evangelist” (someone especially gifted by God to share about Jesus) or not. And for some of you reading this, you are actually called to speak publicly, to stand up and share Jesus and what God says about him in his word. Some of you reading this are preachers, teachers, prophets… called to be proclaimers of God’s love. Have you ever considered that? Does your church give any space to raise up new speakers?
Have you ever had a go at a preach?
I figure, if us lot in our late teens- early twenties are one day going to be the middle-aged members of the church, the age I find a lot of church sermon-bringers to be, surely it makes sense that we are trained and equipped to lead and speak now? Start early. Some churches do this brilliantly, but I figure, everyone benefits in the long run if we raise up our age group today to be speaking and preaching and learning how to communicate about Jesus and teaching the bible.
So now’s your time to speak up on this subject. As a student, have you been given the opportunity to explore any preaching gifting you might have? And how would you raise up new speakers, what do you think would be a good way to do that responsibly? How did your first talk go, if you did have the chance to try?
I pray we have more students exploring their preaching gifting whilst at Uni. I pray our leaders are secure enough to release us, even if we might be a bit shaky on a first go, or more scarily for them… we might do a blinding job. I pray we never quit speaking about Jesus for his glory.