I can see him now in my minds eye, leaning over the podium in the Great Hall at Glen Eyrie, his penetrating gaze traversing the entire audience. His first words were as follows: “The greatest threat to Christianity is not Communism; the greatest threat to Christianity is not materialism; the greatest threat to Christianity is not Islam; the greatest threat to Christianity is Christians: trying-to-sneak-into-Heaven-incognito. Howard Hendricks thus began his series of messages to us that summer with the above statement. As I have considered these words over the years it is apparent that little outward expression leads to little inward impression. Little inward impression in our lives leads to little outward impact on the world around us. The world around us then begins to impact our lives more than our lives impact the world.
A clear demonstration of outward expression deepening inward impression is seen in Chapter 9 of the Gospel of John. When the blind man was first asked how his eyes were opened, he replied, ‘the man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes.” (verse 11) When the Pharisees turned again to him and asked what he thought about the man they call Jesus, he replied, “He is a prophet.” (verse 17) Some time after this, they again had a discussion with the blind man during which he stated, “If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” (verse 32) In the space of a short period of time, his understanding of Christ progressed from a man to a prophet to one sent from God.
A young man with whom I had spent some time years ago had just placed his faith in Christ. After relating this to his wife, he began telling others at his place of work. A co-worker trusted Christ as well and my friend was strengthened in his desire to communicate his faith to others. As he began to develop a clear testimony I asked him to talk with another man with whom I had been meeting. His ability to accurately describe what Christ had done in his life had improved significantly. As he grew in the awareness of his life in Christ, he was asked to give his testimony at one of our Navigator Conferences. As I reflect on his solid and progressive growth in Christ, and the work that the Lord was able to accomplish through his life, I think that a significant amount of this was related to expression deepening impression.
Psalm 107:2 states: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy.” Is this command given only for the impact it would have on others, and not also for the impact on our lives as well? It is crucial for followers of Christ to tell others, to be prepared with their testimony and to be able to share with others. This is true not only for the benefit for others but that the work in our own lives would deepen as well. Paul writes in Philemon 6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have inChrist.” Our full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ is somehow dependent upon our activity in sharing our faith. Expression deepens impression.