Evangelism 2.017

A reading for Thursday, February 23, 2017: Luke 10:1-12.

According to the internet (so it must be true), the definition of evangelism is: "the spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness." Let's unpack that definition just a bit...

First, the Christian gospel is a way of life and not just a set of beliefs. It's our commitment to live differently and to love the world in the name of Jesus our Lord. The gospel is not just a grouping of like minded people. It's not even just a way of serving others as nice people. The gospel is a way of life.

Second, notice that the spreading of such a gospel is done by public preaching OR personal witness. Perhaps it's a hard message for a preacher to hear but preaching is not exclusively how people share faith. In fact, I would argue that in our post-modern age of hyper-information and "bubble networking," it's not even the primary method anymore. It's no longer very effective in the age of diminishing church attendance and religious erosion.

What the gospel needs are people, men and women, willing to share their Christian lives with others. People who will step away from all the busy, frenzied ways of life dictated by our economics and power struggles in order to be present with others. We live in the most connected age in history when more people than ever claim they are lonely and isolated. Who will sit with them? Who will listen to others? Who will make the gospel real and present in someone they know?

Jesus sent the 70 out to do just that. They were not going door to door sharing the gospel with strangers. That's what we think of as evangelism. Instead, these disciples of Jesus were instructed to move in with a family, to work their fields and to share their lives. They were to eat meals together and spend hours and hours talking with one another, fully present in that moment. This is how the gospel was shared. This was evangelism. It wasn't fast paced or scalable for the masses, but it worked.

It was centered in the simple idea that this is how God interacts with us, inviting us into God's presence. God listens to us. God shares our lives. God is with us, and therefore we are called to be with others.

We might not move in with another family or work their fields. Our lives might not be oriented in the same cultural practice. However, we are still called to be present with people. To share our faith with them in a personal, real-time, day to day kind of way. We are still called to listen to others in a world where nobody listens, and to be vulnerable when such is considered weak. This is how the gospel becomes real for others, and this is how evangelism truly happens in our age. Again, it's not fast paced and it's not even scalable for the masses, but it works.

Jesus said, "Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house! And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person"

Thanks be to God!


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