I came across something very disturbing one day, during one of my hospital stays. Not surprisingly, it was on television (most things on television today are disturbing). It was a Sunday morning, and I had channel surfed my way to a popular television evangelist. I had never taken the time to listen to him before, though I had heard a lot about him. The thing that caught my attention at first was the colossal amount of people who were there in person to hear this man speak. Then I noticed what he was talking about. It wasn’t that he was talking about something terribly wrong, it was just…I thought he could have used the platform he had to impart something more significant. Here was this captive audience. Tens of thousands of people, silent, waiting for him to hand them something to hold onto, and he tells them essentially this, “Enjoy your life, and don’t let people make you feel guilty for doing so”. What!? First of all, all those people could have saved themselves their time and money getting there, and just stayed at home watching television (which is kind of funny, because that’s exactly what I was doing). They would have gotten the same message from every infomercial, credit card commercial and magazine ad! And second of all…what!? I mean, yes, our life is a gift and it is meant to be enjoyed but, aside from being the most superficial thing he could say, he neglected to tell his audience how or why or what would happen when they inevitably don’t enjoy their life. There was so much more to be said .
I just couldn’t help but think what would have happened if this evangelist would have used his 40 minutes differently. What if he had gotten up on stage and simply challenged every person in the room to show their love for God’s people by giving $1 to a local homeless shelter? Even if only half the audience took on the challenge, that shelter would conceivably have 10 thousand dollars to minister with! That’s mind-blowing!
In stark contrast to this one, I had a much more encouraging experience the other night with my friend Kara. Her parents were going to be in this live nativity scene, so we went to go check it out.
It was incredible. I have seen many presentations of live nativity scenes, but none was done as well as this one. First of all the amount of volunteers that came together from this church was amazing. Some were traffic directors, some served hot chocolate to the cars waiting in line, some worked on the set up of each scene, and others stood in the cold for hours, to play a part in the Nativity.
Aside from all that, there was the Nativity program itself that was seriously impressive. It was clear that the church had used their talents and resources to give the very best to share with whoever wished to see. Over a thousand cars drove through, all listening to audio tracks to go along with each scene they saw. The tracks shared history and scriptural context to all that their eyes were taking in, and at the end, the gospel was clear: All this was meant for you! All this history, all this love, this gift of Christ, God incarnate…was meant for YOU. So take it.
Driving away from the church that night, I couldn’t think of a better way they could have used their platform to speak into the lives of the community around them. And it made me think about the platform I have, and whether or not the same could be said for me.
We all have a platform in our life. For some of us, only our family is listening, some our coworkers, others have hundreds listening and watching their actions. At times our audiences will change. There will be seasons when only one person is listening, yet other times the number of people paying attention will be completely unknown. The point isn’t how many people are there to hear, the point is what we say; what we do on the platform we are naturally standing. We will say something. We will communicate something. The question is, will it be something worth paying attention to?