Friday, June 17, 2016

I have nothing to sell -- A Manifesto by Morris Pepper

Here is the reading that we did a few Sundays ago.  It was by a man that influenced many Cumberland Presbyterians over the past few decades.  He is with the Lord now, but these words that he left us are worth considering as we take the good news of life in Jesus Christ to the world.

A Manifesto

I have nothing to sell. Many people think the minister is a peddler whose commodity is religion. Preaching is making a sales talk. Visiting means cultivating prospects. Evangelism is doing a “hard sell.”

I have nothing to sell.  Religion is not a commodity.  God is not on the counter or in a catalog.  God’s love and mercy are not Wall Street items.  God’s blessings will not be found in bargain basements.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a witness to make.  There are some things which I believe, convictions arising from my thought and life, which I know from within.  Of these I witness.  They are not mere blessings of tradition.  They are real to me because God is real.  But they cannot be bought or sold.  They can only be witnessed.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a message to communicate.  It is a story of Jesus Christ, a story of redemption.  It is a promise, a promise of what can happen here and now.  It is the gospel, the good news of God’s love told by one who knows it firsthand.  I am a storyteller, a proclaimer, an announcer—not a cocky salesmen with a hot line.

I have nothing to sell.  I have a friendship to offer.  Some are like Job who would like to recapture the days when “the friendship of God was upon my tent.”  Others have never known such a relationship.  Many are afraid of God.  Still others are rebellious.  To these and others I say, “God loves you.  Won’t you let God be your friend?”

I have nothing to sell.  You can’t buy salvation.  You can’t buy faith.  You can’t buy heaven.  You can’t buy God.  Nor can you sell them.  My job is to offer you an adventure, not to sell you a bill of goods—to invite you to join a mission, not a Cosmos Club.

I am not doing hard sell, soft sell, or using psychology.  I don’t have any tricks to pull out of the bag.  So don’t raise your sales resistance.  I am an educator, a teacher, a pastor, a counselor—but please, not a huckster!  I am a witness, a communicator, an announcer, a reporter, but never a peddler.

For we are not like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.

Henry Morris Pepper (1910-2002)

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