Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 42; 146, Isaiah 40:25-31, Ephesians 1:15-23, Mark 1:14-28
Evangelists have an image problem. The word “evangelist” evokes revival tents packed with fake healings and snake oil salesmen. The world of televangelism, with its shiny suits, big hair, and pledge drives for private jets, hasn’t done them any favors. The stereotype of the modern evangelist doesn’t have much in common with John the Baptist and his camel hair tunic. For as long as we’ve had religion we’ve had people trying to make a buck off faith and fear. That’s not evangelism.
When Jesus recruited his disciples, he did so with an eye toward the future and the evangelizing they would be called to do. Even in his day, people were wary of the clergy. Jesus didn’t start his search among religious leaders: he chose fishermen. These fishermen – Peter, Andrew, James, and John – were men of the world, hard-working businessmen who could get dirty when necessary and be salesmen when needed. If they had good news to spread – news good enough to make them leave their old lives behind – people would listen.
We are all called to evangelize, to spread the good news of the Gospels. Few of us are called to do it from the pulpit. Members of the New Monastic movement do it by becoming part of inner city communities. Jay Bakker – son of infamous televangelists Jim and Tammy – started Revolution Church in a bar where many patrons had fewer addictions, tattoos, and piercings than he did. Some people spread the good news through volunteering to help the elderly prepare income tax statements and others take youth to rebuild after disasters.
Real evangelists exist everywhere; you can recognize them because it’s obvious they’ve dropped their nets to find new lives following Christ.
Saint Francis said: “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Less famously he also said: “If God can work through me, he can work through anyone.” Each of us is equipped to evangelize the moment we have a story to tell. Whether we share it through words or actions, it is a recognizably true story. The truth eventually withstands all image problems.
Comfort: Thanks to God, you have important truths to share.
Challenge: Ask friends how they’ve seen you share the Gospel; their answers may surprise you.
Prayer: God of the Good News, I will spread your word through the gifts you have given me. Amen.
Discussion: What’s your preferred way to share your faith?
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