Do you remember this fun activity from elementary school? I can recall my wife sending our kids to class with a variety of objects over the years so that they could share their prized possessions with their classmates. I even recall my wife brining in our dog (more of a puppy at the time) so the kids could share their enthusiasm and excitement with their classmates by introducing Lilly to the other kids.What a wonderful idea that show and tell is for kids. Actually, it is a wonderful idea for us all to partake of. The overall concept is simple enough, you bring out of your personal stash of goodies something that you highly value because it holds some place of significance to you and you first simply show it to others, then as the name implies, tell them a little something about why it is important to you. Lastly, you answer any questions others may have about it and that’s it! But it’s the order of first showing then telling that is most effective.
Why is show and tell so effective? Because, it is centered on the experience of the one doing the showing. It’s hard to argue against someone else’s experience. We may all have differing experiences in details but there is a strong relational factor that is present in experiences. In other words, once we hear of someone’s own experience we begin in the back of our minds searching for relevant experiences in our own lives that might be comparable or relatable. Once we come up with one in our heads, we start to evaluate our experience with theirs to determine if there are any significant differences. If we cannot come up with an experience that compares or if we determine that there are significant differences between our and theirs, we will either be prompted to share our own or dig further into theirs.
Hence, the overall benefit of show and tell is the communication between parties it inspires and as a result of the communication, ideas, thoughts, influence, acceptability, and even friendships grow. I believe this is the reason why as Christians we are to participate in the greatest opportunity of our lives – to show and tell. If we are truly Christ like, which is the definition of the word Christian, then our lives will be a reflection of our beliefs. As they say, actions speak louder than words. Therefore our showing of Jesus in our lives rather than just the direct telling of Jesus in our words, will spark the truest form of communication. Also as a result of consistently living like Jesus did (not just occasionally asking what would Jesus do) in front of others, they will begin to evaluate their own life experiences to those we display. Then on their own, they will open up and either share where their differences are or ask us about the differences directly, which is why Peter gave us this advice:
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” (1-Peter 3:15 KJV)
Notice that it starts by the individual sanctifying God in their own hearts, which is another way of saying exemplify (be an example of) or live out God in your own life first, then others will see and ask you why you have such hope, joy, love etc… in your life. I believe the apostle Paul, who wrote the majority of the New Testament epistles (letters), understood this concept because as he was questioned by new converts, and as they sought to follow after him, he said this:
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1-Corinthians 11:1 KJV)
The problem is most Christians have forgotten the true definition of the word Christian and think that it simply means that they believe in Jesus since they have accepted Jesus. But Christianity is not only about accepting Him but rather having Him change us and as a result of that change, us imitating Him. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery as we’ve been told. Imitation, however, can be either a copy or a fake. Therefore, true imitation is when the imitator has so taken on the life of the one being imitated that it is hard to determine where the imitator begins and the imitated one ends. And, as believers in Christ, isn’t that what we are really called to do?
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24 KJV)
Sure, we all have room for improvement and we all make mistakes along the way, but it should be our goal and the ultimate purpose of our lives to become more and more like Jesus. It’s in understanding our shortcomings that helps us be able to answer others, when they ask us, with meekness and fear (respect). (For a better understanding of what meekness is, see my blog entitled “Meekness Not Weakness!”)
So, it’s not about us being Christians in belief only, but rather, it’s about us living as Christians and being able to show the world something unique and precious that will lead to opportunities for us to tell them about the life changing power of Jesus. Therefore, I would encourage you today to 1) reexamine your idea of Christianity; Are you a Christian because you believe in Jesus or Are you a Christian because you desire to live like Jesus, and 2) embrace the opportunity we’ve been given to share in the excitement of “show and tell”.