This past Sunday’s readings brought a couple of thoughts to my mind. The first is how truth transcends language and culture, and secondly how we, as Christians, are called to evangelize.
Some time ago, a student from my World Religions class asked how we can evangelize without seeming like we’re “pushing our beliefs down their throats”. This question is quite important in a culture that tends to think that faith is a private matter that we ought to keep to ourselves; and if we share it publicly, it had better be with other people who believe the same thing we do, otherwise it is considered “forcing it down others’ throats”, so to speak.
Two Things About Evangelization
What every Christian ought to know is that we are called to preach the Gospel, not to convert people. A serious mistake I made when I was younger, filled with passion and not so much reason, is to think that every battle I fought with an atheist or with someone of a different faith is a battle for conversion. As Christians we must realize that we are directed to go out and tell people about the Good News, the truth about God and His Kingdom. And since what we are proclaiming is truth, it is therefore also beautiful. If you haven’t noticed yet, beautiful things attract people since we are made in a way that we thirst for beauty and find joy in it. And because Jesus Christ is the Truth and that which is Beauty, our proclamation of him will attract those who are genuinely seeking truth and beauty. Thus, we present the Gospel, but it is Christ who converts hearts and souls, not us!
However, in our fallen state, some of us are less likely to see truth and beauty in things that are true and beautiful. For some, the Good News may seem like a terrible thing because its truth calls for the conversion from a “normal” way of life. For these, the Good News must be seen exemplified. This is not to say that some of us, as Christians, can get by with simply preaching the Gospel and not having to live it, for it is both necessary to preach the Gospel and live it; however, it is to say that for some unbelievers, our living out the Gospel will bring them to Christ better than any profound words we can ever utter. Thus, to these others, our proclamation of the Good News must be through love.
How Do We Evangelize Today?
By living out the Gospel, not just preaching it! For instance, how many of us who are Christians readily proclaim that all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and yet still think that abortion is something that is morally acceptable for others? If we refuse to be consistent in our approach to the dignity and sanctity of the lives of our brothers and sisters, then how can we expect non-Christians to receive our message of love with an open embrace. Therefore, we must be a people who proclaim the Gospel, but, now more than ever, we must be people who live out the Gospel!