In every instance in the Scriptures of either Christ teaching or healing, almost immediately we are told either crowds gathered and glorified God, or we are told they spread the Good News of what took place. The work and words of Christ were so infectious, nothing could stop the Gospel from spreading throughout the region, and beyond.
At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by Jesus, and he was perplexed, because it was said by some that John had been raised from the dead, by some that Elijah had appeared, and by others that one of the old prophets had risen. Herod said, "John I beheaded; but who is this about whom I hear such things?" And he sought to see him. On their return the apostles told him what they had done. And he took them and withdrew apart to a city called Bethsaida. When the crowds learned it, they followed him; and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God, and cured those who had need of healing. – Luke 9.7-11
In today’s reading, we hear a perfect example of what I mean. Even Herod heard about what Jesus had been doing, and sought to understand Who Jesus was. Of course, Herod had other plans to protect his influence among the people, but nonetheless, the Good News could not be kept secret. Why is it the Orthodox Christian Church is known as “The Best Kept Secret in America” if the message is so infectious?
The answer is simple. WE do not share the Good News with those who need to hear it. WE keep the Gospel to ourselves. WE barely come to Church, let alone follow Christ around the desert. In a recent comment thread on our YouTube Channel, someone accused the Church of keeping to itself so much that it (The Church) “will never be heard in highways and byways. Never preach the gospel. They live in their own bubble and the bliss of their own history, traditions and myths.”
Obviously, we can each identify an example when this accusation is false, but all too often, the accusation is absolutely true. This must change if we are going to live as authentic Christians. Take a moment and read St Paul’s words for today.
Brethren, we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every joint with which it is supplied, when each part is working properly, makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love. Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. – Ephesians 4.14-17
In the earliest days of the Church, during severe persecution, the Gospel spread to thousands despite the risk to personal safety. Here we are, living in the comfort of America, FREE to believe and preach as we wish, and WE are the ones keeping the Gospel to ourselves. Shame on us! Are we at any more risk than those who were martyred in the first century?
We are on the threshold of the “Christmas Season” in America. Soon the eyes of nearly every American, Christian and non Christian, will be focused on the Birth of Christ. What will they find in our witness? Will they find a people who live futile lives, or will they find a people who share the Good News with those who need to hear Good News and hope more than ever? The time for sharing is now!