Ephesians 6:14-15: Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.(ESV)
Isaiah 52:6-7: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns."(ESV)
According to St. Paul, the gospel offers a foundation for readiness. Whether or not we feel ready, God stands prepared to reconcile people to himself through our proclamation of the good news. Greg Arthur gets this.
Greg is one of my favorite people. When I grow up, I hope to be as cool as he is. He's an overseer at our church, with an acute perception of Christ's presence. He loves his wife like Jesus loves the church, and is raising his son in the fear and instruction of the Lord. By day, he's an engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency. He's freakishly smart, though he'd be the last person to tell you as much. By night and weekend, he plays mandolin in a blue grass band with his wife. They'll play anywhere; music festivals, churches, jails, you name it. They have a remarkable ministry.
Last week, Greg was asked by a former Stanford professor to give a talk on Environmentalism to a group of Chinese delegates. The conference room at Stanford was packed with mayors, provincial governors, and even a member of the presidential cabinet. Greg says he spoke about "apple pie American values," much to the delight of those gathered. Afterwards, Greg spoke with the Minister of Construction via a translator. This man is in the Chinese presidential cabinet. He is one of the most powerful people in China. He commented that Greg seemed to be a very happy man. The subject quickly turned to music, as both Greg and the Minister are musicians. "What kind of music do you play?" the Minister inquired. "Gospel," Greg forthrightly replied. The translator paused before trying to translate the response. The Minister's interest was picqued. He wanted to know more. Greg promised to send him a CD so he could listen the music for himself.
Funny how God works. In a few days, one of the most powerful men in a country that has done unconscionable evil to Christians will - Lord willing - be listening to gospel music. Greg was ready, and was faithful with the opportunity God put in front of him. May we do the same. Who knows who God will put right in front of us?