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Evangelism, Missions, Orality, Storying Basics

Do No Harm Among People in Need

Do No HarmA science fiction story once described an astronaut-type volunteer who was able to step into an alternate universe. As a reminder of home, his wife at the last moment handed him their baby’s rattle. In this world, the sound it made was cute and harmless. However, when the rattle was shaken in that other world, the sound waves knocked people down, broke windows, and unleashed a number of other fantastic problems.

Small group leaders must do everything they can do to send their participants out into a lost world. Get organized and plan mission trips. Conduct a weekend evangelism workshop. (There’s one in “Catching Fire.”) Hold believers accountable for witnessing. And train them so that they do no harm.

Churches should seek to do no harm among people in need. Like the man shaking the baby rattle, those working among people who are different from them can do things that seem so very innocent, but have serious consequences. Followers of Jesus would never intentionally do harm, of course, but we do need to be aware of the consequences of our actions. We hope our actions can be good, but we often work in ways that create problems, even chaos.

Before medical doctors begin their practice, they are asked to take the Hippocratic Oath. Physicians seek to do no harm with their medical arts. It would be good for us to internalize a biblical equivalent Hippocratic Oath before we go out as “sent ones” (John 20:21).

Jesus put it this way: “Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them” (Luke 6:31 HCSB). For believers who follow Jesus, He has a special command that is essential to follow. “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23 HCSB). We must learn to die to self and apply all that we can in order to do no harm.

The traveler into the other dimension with the toy escaped unharmed. He was heralded for his bravery before he even had an opportunity to make a report. Despite the joyous homecoming in his world, just by introducing the otherwise innocent baby rattle into that other dimension, the man shaking the toy had caused unintended catastrophes.

When we use literate methods and are not sensitive to worldview issues, many recipients often put up brave faces as gracious hosts. And that hurts, too. Harm done may never be known as we return to our churches rejoicing in all that was done in the name of Jesus Christ.

God is sovereign, but His actions in our world should never be despite us.

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About Mark Snowden

TruthSticks originated from the book I co-authored with the late Avery Willis. Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truths in a Teflon World was the book and this blog and Bible studies have resulted. It's great to be partnering with churches who are committed to making disciple-makers. Request a catalog of Bible studies using orality at SnowdenMinistries@gmail.com.

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