In business they talk about having an “elevator pitch” a short 30 second presentation about yourself and what you do that you can quickly use to respond to people when they ask you what you do for a living or what your job is. The idea is that you can easily and quickly tell people about yourself and what you can offer them in business without taking up too much time or boring them with extra details that only detract from the main idea your trying to make/sell – yourself and your business services. Short, sweet and to the point.
So what if someone asked you for your elevator pitch about Christianity and why they should consider becoming one? What would your answer be?
It’s OK, I’ll wait while you think of something………..
How about Psalm 23. That’s right, the 23rd Psalm.
Immediately most of us start in quoting “the Lord is my Shepard I shall not want” and unfortunately that is where most of us leave it. The 23rd Psalm may be the most quoted and memorized Psalm, but ironically it is also the most ignored.
And when I say ignored, I mean we as Christians totally ignore what it says, what it really says. In our quest for sound bite theology we have come to gloss over not only the words but also the meaning of Psalm 23 without ever taking the time to study and meditate on it.
And in failing to mediate on it we have missed one of the more soul and spirit encouraging and nourishing passages in scripture.
“1 The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. 2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. 3 He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake. 4 Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over. 6 Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place.” Psalm 23 (The Amplified Bible)
I love the Amplified translation as it expands and explains the true meaning of the original wording. Phrasing that often gets lost in some of the more popular versions and translations of the Bible, no offense to those of you who love the King James Version but I don’t really see David using Elizabethan English.
The undeniable message of the 23rd Psalm is one of absolute care and love from our heavenly father towards us his beloved children.
Yet if the message of this Psalm is one of love and unwavering care for us as God’s children, why do so many of us treat it more like a far away pipe dream than a lead iron lock? I’m afraid we’ve grown accustomed to a thinking of Psalm 23 in the past tense, as if it only applied to some warm and fuzzy feelings that David had several centuries ago and really has no practical application for us today. In doing so we miss out on one of the most perfect word pictures available to us in the Bible for how God sees and views us and all that is ours as a result of that relationship.
Reread the Psalm above and focus on the main themes.
The Lord is our Shepard, we will not lack anything. He is there to watch over us, guide us, protect us and provide for us. He will give us food, drink, shelter and watching care. He restores us to right standing with Him, not because of anything we do but instead because of who He is. Even in dark times He is with us. In fact He is not only with us but He will lay a feast out for us in front of our enemies. (Catch that it is a feast in the presence of our enemies, not some heavenly feast yet to come but instead one here and now on Earth in the midst of our troubles). He will comfort us on our journey (the phrase to anoint the head with oil refers to the practice of using oil to protect the body from excessive perspiration. The oil acted as a refresher in the heat of the regional climate, such much so that athletes would use it before activity and it made them better able to perform.) Our anointing comes by way of the Holy Spirit to allow us the ability to better perform our spiritual duties as Christians. The unfailing love and mercy of God is with us and upon us for our entire lives and we are assured our place in the family of God.
And tell me again why we wouldn’t be shouting this from the mountain tops? The 23rd Psalm is not some cute child’s recitation, instead is should be the living and breathing mantra of all of us who are Christians. It should be our elevator pitch to explain to others why we are excited to be Christians and serve our Lord. The promises of God that are ours as His born again believers are all spelled out in an easy to understand format, why do we try to reinvent the wheel when the perfect one has already been made?
So that’s my pitch, what’s yours?