Throughout every day we are all bombarded by messages that come to us from every direction. They arrive as voicemail, text, email, memorandum, and even through “snail mail” crammed into our mailboxes. Some of them are ones we are eager to hear or get and others are not. Sorting through all of them consumes time and no matter how we may have felt when this barrage first started, most of us are weary of all the time this takes out of our day (or night).
Each message (wanted or unwanted) requires a decision from us of some sort. Often that means we need to give or leave a response as well and that means we add to the clutter of messages because we add to them. Sometimes we are stunned on a day without many messages to deal with but that would be rare because many of us write messages or notes to ourselves to remember one thing or another.
Most messages come as print, audio, video, or mixed format for us. But there is something about this that we can miss in our snowstorm of messages each day.
Each of us in our person is also a message. I was reminded of that while reading in 1 Thessalonians when Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica:
“The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message!”1 Thessalonians 1:6-7 (MSG)
Paul is stating plainly that these people had heard the message of God’s Word and it had so changed and impacted who they were in every area of their lives that they had become the message.
This wasn’t about writing down something for someone or telling someone in just words. This was a complete transformation of who they were so every aspect of behavior, speech, nonverbal expression, and choice reflected how the Word had been engrafted into them.
And people noticed.
What a message all they met or interacted with must have received, but what about us now?
We also are a message to everyone who encounters us or observes us whether we intend that or not. We convey who we are to more than those we are intentionally wanting to communicate with. We, the message, are given to our neighbors, postman, cashier, waiter or waitress, mechanic, and hundreds of others every day who observe us whether up close or at a distance. Our values and choices are conveying who we are – we are a message.
Many of us may not actually know our neighbors well. Beyond waving or saying “hello” other interactions may not happen, but the message of us gets conveyed in hundreds of ways – when and how our trash cans are left out, how we handle our lawn and landscaping, whether we scream at others who live with us, if we train our children and animals to respect property, whether we work nights or days, or are regularly seen heading out to worship on a Saturday or Sunday. All these are our message to the world and when all these messages are combined, they convey quite a sketch of us.
That can be funny or sobering to consider.
But in all the places we live and move each day is there evidence that we are believers in Christ? If so, is it because we have told them, or they have seen us carrying a Bible with us or is it because they see or sense something more? Does Christ’s life in us cause us to be a fragrance (as Paul wrote to the Corinthians) that distinguishes our message beyond the words we say or the things we carry? Whether we intend to or not we are the message and for some, the only message they will really see or read to gain a sense of whose we are. Does who we tell them we are match the message of us?
It can be far easier to say who we are than to have the message of us actually convey the words we say.
The message of us will always be the one others remember more than what we may say to them. Do our convictions need to be strengthened so that we don’t need to plan or think through the message second by second? What happens with the messages we take into us through all and any means? It is certain they shape and impact us and the message that we become.
The Apostle Paul spoke to that as well when he addressed the church at Thessalonica:
“When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.”1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 (MSG)
Do we need more steel in our convictions to live authentically each moment of each day?
However we choose to answer that question, or live each day, let us remember this – we are the message.