I admittedly have always been a bit uncomfortable with evangelism. The image of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker comes to mind first; the Witnesses who occasionally appear at my door. My faith has always been very personal to me and my inclination is afford everyone else the same privacy.
Today’s second lesson reminded me that I am “entrusted with a commission.” God asks very little of us in return for the “liberty of that abundant life” for which we pray in today’s Collect. However we are told in the bible many times to proclaim the gospel to the world. This should be an easy task because it truly is the gladdest tidings of great joy. Yet I struggle to inject religion (or politics) into almost all conversation. In this age where we strive not to offend anyone by imposing our beliefs upon others, this mission has become increasingly difficult. In this age where we strive for the inoffensive and undefined, this mission becomes a desperate and critical one for all of us.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard?” I grew up in a family which attended church every Sunday and was raised by parents who taught us about God and Christ. Throughout my life shuffling through friends in school and college, both single and married, with and without children, I can count on one hand the number who attend church on a regular basis. Most adults recollect religious lessons recalled from childhood or from a mentor. A few children pull the religious themes from their favorite holiday shows, cartoons and games. But the familiar presence of God in their lives is lacking, and the consequences for this are severe in this life and the next.
What is familiar is the loneliness, uselessness, painfulness and weakness that we all feel at times in our lives. As followers of Christ we all know there is only one cure for all these maladies and more: Him. I often wondered how painful it would be to endure this life without any faith. Where do others go for comfort, justice, peace, and understanding? Time and time again I see people reaching for money, power, drugs and many other distractions.
“He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.” What if we viewed sharing the gospel as curative treatment instead of an imposition? Admittedly for me this is easier said than done, but it is required of me and as His servant that is all I need know. In today’s Gospel, when Simon and his companions told Jesus “Everyone is searching for you,” he instead chose to go to the neighboring towns to “proclaim the message there also.” I like to think Jesus wanted to move on partly because He knew there were now enough of the faithful in that town to continue expounding His message on His behalf.
- What challenges has your faith helped you to overcome?
- Did you relate these success stories to others?
- In what ways do you faithfully proclaim the gospel to those around you?