Patmos Journal – #9

May 13, 2020

Show and tell.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-10 
…for our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.  For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.  For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.

Many families in this land enduring shutdowns and isolating at home are experiencing their first round of home schooling. Some parents are getting an education themselves; learning now that what the teachers were saying about their student was actually true. I would imagine a huge boost in admiration and respect for our educators is going to rise from the ashes, with parents being “woke” in realization that administrating on campuses and presiding over classrooms is a worthy endeavor not for dabblers or the fainthearted.

For those parents now in the classroom initiation-by-fire, I would like to suggest that in addition to junior’s worksheets, recitations, memorization of tables and myriad other academic necessities, you might throw in an item from the dusty vault of the American classroom. This little gem in my day, was called simply Show and Tell.

I recall that time in my early elementary school experience, when a “show and tell” moment was an anticipated segment of our every day. There was an orderly list–by row and desk– of who was to share on what day. I cannot describe the lengths that we budding toastmasters went to in preparing for our brief presentations.  The best “show ‘n tellers” would hide their “show” object until the moment of reveal in front of the class. Many times, the venerable brown paper grocery sack (various sizes!) was utilized to keep our audience in the dark until that moment.  What would it be today? Arrowhead? Souvenir book from Mammoth Cave? A real telescope? Foreign coins or stamps? Newly hatched chicks? …Young minds were engaged by the object, and the story that went with it. This was real. This was life on display. This was example and testimony, rolled into one.

Paul’s encouragement in the lives of the Thessalonians came from their application of the gospel to how they lived. Their testimony was not only verbal, but bore itself out in the reality of the things they practiced. They could tell about the Lord Jesus, because they also would consistently show the Lord’s presence in their acts.

Looking at an admonition from Paul to the believers in Philippi, he wrote: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:3-4 

Here in these Patmos days of virus, isolation, distancing, and necessity-only ventures, we are looking to the Lord for various creative ways that we can still practically demonstrate care for others that will add credibility to our words when they are needed. Though much of our organized common ministries and activities are curtailed for the present, there are still many demonstrations of Christ’s love that are occurring among the church, positionally isolated from one another, yet living, moving, and laboring as one at carrying out our commission from the Lord. Opportunity still presents–it has always been there.

The calls. The gifts. The small acts of serving: a neighbor, a stranger, a worker. Transportations. Prayers through a window. Kindnesses of the tiniest sort. Recognitions. Mailed items. Compassion demonstrated by allowing another to go, or choose, or have. Pleasant cooperation with those front-lined for our good, who also have souls, and are made in the image of our Creator. The examples run on and on…

Then, with that genuine showing of faith giving credibility (that is, I actually believe Christ enough to let Him guide even my smallest actions!) there often comes the suitable time to tell: speaking or conveying a fitting word of testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ (that is, this is what motivates and compels me).

In these days, it is ever-clearer to me that we’re all students in the classroom. Though we teach the Word to our children, prayerfully with accuracy, consistency and practical application, we cannot fail as the adult in the room, to build the same lessons into our lives. It’s not just that little eyes are watching; every eye watches.

And He also spoke a parable to them: “A blind man cannot guide a blind man, can he? Will they not both fall into a pit? A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:39-40

“Ok children, it’s time for Show and Tell. What have you done today to show and tell about Jesus? Alright, who wants to be the first to share?”