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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

"Telling", or "Showing"?

During some long-needed tidying-up in my study this afternoon, I discovered a piece that I had published in a church magazine - a very long time ago! However, as I read it, I decided that it might be worth publishing on this blog. It's a true story with, I trust, a clear lesson!

We were travelling through the Belgian city of Brussels, en route to visit friends in Germany, when we missed a turning! It was already quite late in the evening; it was dark; our children were young; and with neither map, nor knowledge, of the city we were completely lost!

I stopped at a petrol station and, in faltering French, asked for directions to the airport as we had arranged our overnight stop close to it. The directions were willingly given - but completely in French, and at a speed that left us barely any wiser than we were before. 

Our next attempt at finding help was somewhat better as, at an all-night café, we at least received some directions in the English language. However, by the time that we had crossed over the same little bridge for the third time, we had realised that we were getting no closer to our destination.

Eventually, just two simple words brought clarity to the situation. We asked a young man, who was topping up the radiator in his own car (it really was a long time ago!), if he could help. "Certainly", he replied, "Follow me!" and, as we did so, we quickly arrived at the main road leading to the airport, and were then able to find our planned destination.

FOLLOW ME! There is a world of difference between telling someone the way, and showing them the way. In I Cor.11:1, Paul issues an amazing invitation to his readers. "Follow my example," he writes, "as I follow the example of Christ." Writing to the believers in Thessalonica, he uses similar language: "You became imitators of us, and of the Lord." (I Thess.1:6). Jesus, Himself, not only said that the wise man is the one who "... hears these words of Mine, and puts them into practice." (Matt.7:24); He also said: "I am the Way ..." (Jn.14:6), "Follow Me." (Mk.1:17).

You (if you are one!) and I may be able to tell others how to live the life of the disciple of Jesus, but it is a different thing to show it! Paul was saying, in effect, "Doing as I do will ensure that you are walking in the footsteps of Jesus." It's as we live "... in the fear of the LORD." (Ps.34:11) that we "... live lives worthy of God, who calls [us] into His kingdom and glory." (I Thess.2:12), and are able to say to others who would seek Jesus - "Follow me!"

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