The other day I was standing beside an elevator, having just pushed the Arrow Down button to call the elevator up to the second floor, when an elderly gentleman walked over and pushed the same button again. Then, he turned to me and said, “I know that was useless. The elevator won’t get here any sooner just because two people push it.”
At the grocery store, a little later that day, I tried to sign my name on a credit card scanner. After several attempts to make a semi-legible mark, the clerk waved her hand at me and said, “Oh, honey, forget it. Your signature won’t mean anything on there. That thing is useless.”
My day of useless things ended when I got home and tried to balance my checkbook. No, it wasn’t balancing the checkbook that proved useless. What was useless was pushing the “C” repeatedly on the calculator, clearing out the old amount before adding a new one. Like the gentleman at the elevator, I suddenly realized pressing the “C” a second time was an exercise in futility. The screen always went blank the first time I pushed it.
There’s a fourth useless thing we may be guilty of as well. It’s forgetting to worship our Creator. God reminds us of this in Isaiah 45:7 when He says, “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.”
Failure to acknowledge the God of the Universe, He who created light and darkness, who directs every aspect of our lives, is useless. In the same chapter in Isaiah, God says,” By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return:‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23).
Voices! We hear voices each and every day. Some are screaming at us from the TV, telling us to order this, pay attention to that, and don’t forget about something else. Others are posting on our Facebook page, our Twitter feed, our other social media sites, wanting us to sign this, like that, or look at something else.
Who merits our attention? To whom should we be listening? Whose voice is the worthy voice?
A crippled up old man appears in the gospel of John to answer these questions. (John 5:1-17). He doesn’t have a name in the gospel, but everyone at the pool of Bethesda knew him. He’d been lying there for thirty-eight years, unable to take advantage of the pool’s healing properties. Jesus stopped by one day, and, in one instantaneous moment, took care of the crippled man’s lifelong problem.
Following Jesus’ instructions, the Man Made Whole gathered up his bedroll and walked away. Later, when asked by the religious leaders what he thought he was doing carrying around his bed on a Sabbath, he told them he was doing what he’d been instructed to do by the man who’d healed him, by the man who had enough authority to make him whole again.
The Man Made Whole was carrying his bed—in defiance of the religious authorities—because he recognized a man who was able to give life to his withered limbs was someone with authority, someone worthy of his attention.
This same man, Jesus of Nazareth, healed me one day. He healed me of a lifelong sin problem, a sickness so severe I was doomed for eternal destruction. He did so by taking sin’s disease on Himself and paying the price for it Himself. Now, he commands me to take up my life and live it for Him.
His is a voice worth hearing. Listen to His words from the rest of John 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.” (25-26)
Sometimes, all it takes is a nudge. I’m especially susceptible to nudges. I probably wouldn’t have started writing my Titus Ray Thrillers, if someone hadn’t casually mentioned to me I should try writing a spy novel. Every day I enjoy a few minutes of mind-stimulating fun playing a word game on my iPad called Word with Friends, but if a very good friend hadn’t given me a little push to put the app on my iPhone, I wouldn’t have done so.
And, sometimes, a little nudge may be all a person needs to come to Christ, or to renew their commitment to Him, or to read their Bible or to . . .
Last week, I heard about a style of evangelism that’s become popular after a book was written about it five years ago. The book is called Nudge by Leonard Sweet. In it, Sweet says that “sharing the gospel should be a matter of awakening each other to the God who’s already there.”
Sweet writes, “Nudge evangelism is based on a simple premise: in everyone you meet, leave an impression–a Jesus impression, a Jesus dent. The nudge can be as simple as a smile, as profound as a prayer, as complex as a meal, as subtle as a story, as venturous as a witness, as ambitious as an altar call.”
To nudge someone toward Christ is vastly different from shoving them toward Christ. The gospels give a clear picture of how Jesus offered Himself to unbelievers. “Come unto me,” He said. If someone rejected the offer, Jesus was saddened by such a response, but He didn’t call them out, pronounce curses on them, or show animosity of any kind toward them. And yet, more than any other being in existence, He would have been justified in doing so.
Nudging people toward Christ can happen all the time in hundreds of different ways, and the form it takes is totally dependent on a person’s personality type. Extroverts will be more aggressive in calling attention to how Jesus is working in their lives but the quiet, thoughtful attitude of an introvert can be equally as effective.
As long as I keep one thing in mind, it’s easy for me to practice this kind of nudge evangelism. I remind myself that every person I encounter in my life—from grocery clerk to business man, from stranger to friend—is someone God has placed there, is someone God has prepared for me to nudge toward Him, is someone He loves.
Give someone a little nudge toward Jesus today. It may be all they need to discover the hidden treasure of Christ Himself.
1 Peter 2: 15-16 “For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.”