You Don’t Need A Bible To Evangelize

From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser:

 

The task of taking God to others is not that of handing somebody a Bible or some religious literature, but of transubstantiating God, the way we do with the food we eat. We have to digest something and turn it, physically, into the flesh of our own bodies so it becomes part of what we look like. If we would do this with the word of God, others would not have to read the Bible to see what God is like, they would need only to look at our faces and our lives to see God.

 

Fit In Your Faith Today: When was the last time someone asked you why you are a Christian? Or why you go to mass? Do you think others find you unapproachable when it comes to asking these questions? As the passage above suggests, we wouldn’t even need to hand out reading materials to anyone who questions our faith, they would just need to see the way we treat people, the way we spend our free time, the ways in which we interact with those less fortunate, etc., to see where and how God is a part of our lives.  Think of ways you can show how God is at work in your life by putting your faith into action.

No Need to Keep Jesus a Secret

John 7:1-2, 10, 25-30

Jesus moved about within Galilee;
he did not wish to travel in Judea,
because the Jews were trying to kill him.
But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near.

But when his brothers had gone up to the feast,
he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret.

Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said,
“Is he not the one they are trying to kill?
And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him.
Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ?
But we know where he is from.
When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”
So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said,
“You know me and also know where I am from.
Yet I did not come on my own,
but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true.
I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.”
So they tried to arrest him,
but no one laid a hand upon him,
because his hour had not yet come.

From the New Life Study Bible: Jesus came with the greatest gift ever offered, so why did he often act secretly? The religious leaders hated him, and many would refuse his gifts of salvation, no matter what he said or did. The more Jesus taught and worked publicly, the more these leaders would cause trouble for him and his followers. So it was necessary for Jesus to teach and work as quietly as possible, and worshiping publicly with little persecution. These believers should be grateful and make the most of their opportunities to proclaim the Good News.

The Jewish religious leaders had a great deal of power over the common people. Apparently these leaders couldn’t do much to Jesus at this time, but they threatened anyone who might publicly support him, most likely with excommunication. Excommunication from the synagogue was one of the reprisals for believing in Jesus. To a Jew this was a severe punishment.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you hide your belief in Jesus? Do you think you’ll get grief or persecuted for your belief in Christ? We don’t need to hide or keep our faith quiet these days. Learn from the early followers of Christ. Take opportunities to spread the Good News. Today, many of us living in the free world don’t need to worry about persecution for our beliefs. Do not be concerned about a negative reaction or someone not “hearing” your words. In time, they might come back to you with questions or inquiries and you can expand on your love of God and possibly help this person become a follower as well!

Practice What You Preach And Serve One Master

Matthew 23:1-12

Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying,
“The scribes and the Pharisees
have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.
Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you,
but do not follow their example.
For they preach but they do not practice.
They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry
and lay them on people’s shoulders,
but they will not lift a finger to move them.
All their works are performed to be seen.
They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels.
They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues,
greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’
As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’
You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers.
Call no one on earth your father;
you have but one Father in heaven.
Do not be called ‘Master’;
you have but one master, the Christ.
The greatest among you must be your servant.
Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;
but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

Didn’t we already learn from the first week of Lent, that Jesus was tempted in the desert by the devil to have all the honor and glory that he wanted? We don’t need that kind of temptation and we don’t need that kind of life here on earth. It might look good on the outside to be “seated at a place of honor at banquets and synagogues” as the scribes and Pharisees were in this passage. But as Jesus mentioned, they were not practicing what they were preaching. They loved being honored like that. We don’t need to mimic this behavior. It LOOKS attractive, but with all that praise and honor comes idolatry and worship of false idols. We don’t need people worshiping us and we certainly need not worship anyone but God.

It’s also interesting to note people who are called Master. We might not use this exact word but we do put people up on high pedestals, don’t we? We like to call celebrities Kings and Queens. We buy their clothing line or perfume, or we watch their tv shows and read their interviews and hang on to every word they say. Idolatry is alive and well today although you may think it’s an old school practice.

This passage reminds us to humble ourselves before the Lord. He is our one true Master, He is our only King, and He is the only one we need to honor and praise daily.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you have idol worship? Do you look to celebrities or even just friends or people in your inner circle as Kings and Queens? Take a look at what Jesus preached. Are you practicing or just going through the motions? Ask yourself these questions this Lent and make a change if you need to stop worshiping false idols and start praising the one and only King, Jesus Christ.

We Believe

Acts 1:8

“But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This verse reminds me of a conversation I once had with a friend of mine. He is not a believer in God and asked me why “religious people” like myself were always trying to get people to believe what I believe in. He put me in the category of a disciple I suppose and assumed since I go to church regularly I must be one of “those” people who evangelizes often.

I was slightly embarrassed to admit that I actually wasn’t the type to try to get people to convert. I left that to the people who knew more about Christ than me. This friend of mine was actually irritated that “people like me” were always preaching their beliefs to non-believers and it was irritating and annoying to him.

I recall not knowing what to say to my friend after that in regards to the conversation. I do remember telling him that as a Catholic, I knew it part of my faith spread the Good News but that I wasn’t very good at it (This was back in the summer of last year, before starting this blog).

This verse is a reminder that I don’t have to be a preacher, a priest, a minister, a nun or anyone considered to be an expert in my faith to still be a good witness to others. I hope to have this conversation with my friend again and it would go a lot differently. My response this time around would look something like this:

Friend: Why are you always trying to convert people to your religion? Why can’t we all just believe whatever we want?

Me: You can believe in whatever or whoever you want. You have free-will. But as a Christian, I have this gift that I would be selfish to keep all to myself. I would never force someone to convert or force anyone to listen to me. But if they want to know WHY I believe in God and WHY I’m so confident in my faith, I would point out resources to them to read and I would invite them to my church for a mass so they can see why I love it so much. I need to be a witness to others because my life changed shortly after my Mom died. I saw how strong she was in her faith and I wanted to live my life like that. I also saw someone I love die right before my eyes and of course that makes you take stock in your own life. I want to live my life filled with faith, not hate or neutrality or “I know I’m a good person so I don’t need to worry about life after death” type of mentality. I want to spread the word of how I TRY to live a good life filled with faith because of course, I’m not perfect nor expected to be. Others who don’t know about God SHOULD at least get to hear from me so they can make the decision on their own on whether or not they want to live their life the way they have been doing it, or if they want to live their life with a purpose for God.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you selfishly keep God all to yourself? Have you ever “witnessed” or discussed why you believe what you believe with someone who asked you? Try not to brush these questions off. Remember, we don’t all have to be wordsmiths or preachers or pastors in order to give advice or discuss our faith with non-believers. Just tell someone your story. You might be surprised at how they respond. You could change their life!

Preach On and Often

Matthew 28: 19-20

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples; baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.

Ever have some good news that you can’t wait to share with someone? You remember that anxious and exciting feeling of anticipation as you told them, “I have something awesome to tell you!!” Well that’s how a lot of Christians feel too. As we learn more and more about our God and our savior Jesus Christ, we want to be able to share this information with others. Why? Because it’s helped us when we needed it. Because it’s great to know God!

Maybe you found hope in going to mass every Sunday. Maybe you attended a support group at your church. Maybe you found a great website or blog that shares inspirational scripture and it helped you through a difficult time. 🙂 Sometimes we need to share this news with others. You might hesitate because you aren’t sure if they want to hear it. Or maybe you’re fearful that they will reject your message as “hogwash” or hurt your feelings by telling you that they don’t believe in God.

Jesus wants us all to be his apostles. This doesn’t even mean we have to become great evangelists or professional speakers. You can share the message by just showing kindness to someone. Or by inviting them to come to mass with you. Let the other parishioners and the priest do the evangelizing for you. It really is easy to “preach” without sounding preachy. It’s in our actions and in our words but it’s also in the little things. Just showing someone kindness, giving a little gift to someone who is less fortunate, or simply sharing part of the written word on social media, or sending something nice to someone’s inbox (or the real mail too) is evangelizing. It’s a small but powerful way to share the Good News with others.

Fit in your Faith Today: Let the good news spread. Share part of your faith today in some form with someone today, either through the written word, or social media, or speaking to them, or showing them an act of kindness. Remember, don’t be selfish with your faith; share it with others!