I was blessed by the coffee mug I received as a token of appreciation for serving as ‘program speaker’ at a local civic club yesterday.
On some level, I found it ironic to be blessed, given the fact that my co-presenter and I had put a fair amount of time and effort into secularizing the talk—not at the club’s suggestion, but simply in the interest of being considerate guests.
Our topic was the work of Kairos Prison Ministry—an expressly Christian endeavor. But because we knew the club draws its membership from a broader cross-section of the community, we framed our discussion accordingly. We didn’t hide the ministry’s rootedness in Christ; but we didn’t emphasize the point as methodically as we might have, had we been speaking to a church group.
I’m pretty sure it was the right call—to seek this common ground with our audience, and to witness in a way that would keep their minds and hearts open to receiving some Good News, no matter what their religious heritage or beliefs.
When I got home and took a closer look at the coffee mug I’d received, I realized it was the club’s chance to return the favor. On it was imprinted a copy of the organization’s Four-Way Test:
Is it the truth?
Is it fair to all concerned?
Will it build goodwill and better friendships?
Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
In the words of the test, of course, I immediately recognized a familiar face:
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.’
I encountered a blessed assurance, too—that Christ can be present, even when he seems to be traveling incognito:
‘Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.
John, your preparation was appropriate. But when I would speak at Rotary Clubs or other organizations about Scouting, it was amazing to meet people and they often would immediately make connections with being called to serve through their faith. Stephen Covey took the same approach in his famous book, “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” He knew he had to relate to all people, but the principles are all based on a thorough and extensive study of the world’s religions. I think you followed the teaching of St. Francis, “Preach the Gospel and if necessary, use words.”
Have a great weekend!