Christian Living

Show Me, Don't Just Tell Me

We are well served with exhortation. We could benefit from more examples.

I spoke with an older Christian man who lamented the fact that he didn't know how to lead his family as a Christian man. He hadn't grown up in a Christian home and he didn't have any models to follow. His children had grown up now but he wished he had had men in his life who could have shown him how to do this.

He knew the why. He didn't know the how.

Christians don't just need truth to believe, we need lives to imitate and examples to follow.

How much must the disciples have learned by living with Jesus and not just listening to the truth that he spoke but also watching the life that he lived.

"I urge you, then, be imitators of me," was the apostle Paul's exhortation to the church in Corinth and elsewhere. "Set the believers an example" was Paul's encouragement to Timothy.

We need people to imitate. We can be people that others imitate.

The importance of imitation begins at the heart level. As Don Carson reflects:

"If I have learned anything in 35 or 40 years of teaching, it is that students don’t learn everything I teach them. What they learn is what I am excited about, the kinds of things I emphasize again and again and again and again. That had better be the gospel."

But it flows out into numerous other practical aspects of the Christian life.

How to lead your family.

How to pray.

How to have a quiet time.

How to have a difficult conversation.

How to respond to difficult questions.

How to share your faith.

We are well served with exhortation. We could benefit from more examples.

The power of modeling came home to me recently in an unexpected place. I discovered a new YouTube channel called The Futur where  entrepreneur Chris Do shares advice about how to run a business. His channel includes a number of role play videos where he models how to navigate common conversations with potential clients.

Take a look:

Why don't Christians do this?

Videos like this would be particularly helpful in preparing for evangelistic and apologetic conversations. For example, "When a colleague asks you why you haven't added the rainbow signature to your email block" or "When your sister asks why Christians hate transgender people."

But there are many other scenarios too, such as:

  • "When your teenage daughter says she doesn't want to go to church."
  • "When your friend says that he is feeling depressed and far from God."
  • "When your neighbour shares that she's had a miscarriage."

Role playing isn't about learning a playbook or memorising a script.

But examples in general, and role playing in particular, acknowledge the benefit of watching and learning from others as we seek to apply the goodness of God's word to the many different moments of our daily lives.