All promoters of their particular version of religion are good talkers. They all have a particular value proposition that they are peddling. People who are searching spiritually can hear the talk, and they are interested in the topic, but they are often skeptical. They don’t want to be hustled. Long before Sinclair Lewis satirized Christian evangelists with his novel Elmer Gantry, people viewed religious talkers as first cousins of carnival barkers.
That will never change. People today are in as desperate need for Christ as they ever were. And they are just as skeptical as ever, perhaps more so because every smartphone gives every listener the chance to fact-check every bit of information instantly. The need for Christian talkers to back up their messages with deeds of love has never been more important than right now. Religious talk is cheap. True love expressed in sacrificial service will always be noticed and respected.
St. Paul not only brought the doctrine of Christ’s saving work to the people in Corinth; he recruited them into a compassion project that was painfully important back in Jerusalem. The Corinthians were relatively wealthier than the poor saints in Judea because of an artificially constructed punitive famine there: “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (2 Corinthians 9:13).
Sacrificial service is a triple play: People are helped. God is worshiped. And seekers notice.