I’ve been preaching all week that our transformed lives are an important part of our Christian proclamation. The new reality that Jesus is Lord and that the Kingdom of God has been established is best declared by holy lives. The lordship of Jesus ought to radically impact the things we do, the things we say, the ways we think, our relationships with people, and our connections to stuff. Not following rules and commands. Not believing the right way about all the right things. Living a changed life is what’s required.
That’s why when Paul encourages Philemon to welcome back his runaway slave as a brother, he appeals to the love of Christ in Philemon, not to law or philosophy or tradition or culture. That’s why Paul prohibits lawsuits among Christ followers: it’s better to be wronged, to be cheated, than to dilute the proclamation that Jesus is Lord, not your desire to assert your rights or to get what you want. When Peter refuses to eat with Gentiles whenever any Jews might be around, Paul calls him on it: “You’re not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel.” Deitrich Bonhoeffer had a practice in his Confessing Church: No one in this community of faith can mention the name of anybody else in this community of faith, even to say something nice, unless that other person is in the room to hear it.” That threw the potential for gossip right out the window — even gossip in the name of prayer.
The truth of the Gospel — Jesus is Lord, he’s fixing everything, and we’ve got to get in on it — informs and shapes our lives.
Proclamation means bearing witness, giving testimony. If you’ve not experienced a changed life, then the Kingdom of God and the lordship of Christ is only a theory for you. You don’t know if it works or not. If you’re not transformed, how do you know it works? If the Gospel’s not transforming you, how do you know if it’ll transform anything? How are you going to proclaim?