As we begin the All Things New process, our primary emphasis is evangelization. The word evangelize comes from the Greek “euangelizesthai,” or “bring good news.” What is the good news that we bring? That Jesus Christ, by His life, death and resurrection, has opened for us eternal life.
I’ve been a little surprised over the past several months that people have told me that we need to drop the word “evangelization” because it is too intimidating, too churchy, or has been “taken over” by the Protestant churches. These comments are from good practicing Catholics who want the best for the Church. So why do we find evangelization such an intimidating word?
I offer three thoughts.
Do I believe?
If I am going to share the Good News of the Gospel with others, one fundamental element must exist: the belief that Jesus matters. The Church teaches that people of goodwill who, through no fault of their own, have not professed faith in Jesus or in the Church can enter into heaven by God’s grace — but this still happens through Jesus. A Buddhist in heaven is there because of Jesus. This may be an uncomfortable belief to profess in today’s society, but it is intrinsic to the Gospel message. There is no other “way, truth or life.”
Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles says that Jesus is either a mad man, a bad man or the Son of God. Jesus claimed to be God. If He believed this and it was not true, He was insane. If He said it and knew it was not true, He was lying and was a bad man. Or … He is the Son of God.
Have I been equipped?
You have to be a disciple before you can make one. Before Jesus sent His disciples out, He spent a lot of time with them. Less than 1% of Catholics say that they feel equipped to evangelize. The first step is growing in our intimacy with Jesus. Ongoing conversion and growth into life in Christ is a prerequisite for evangelization.
If I do not know Christ, I might fall into one of two errant camps: I can profess a strict set of moral rules as the end goal of Christianity, or I can alter the Gospel message until it fits comfortably into societal mores. This was the error of the Pharisees and the Sadducees, respectively. Jesus wants us to share Him, in all the ways that society celebrates, and all the ways that make society uncomfortable. He is the Good News.
What does it look like?
Evangelization can be intimidating because some people associate it with going door-to-door or standing on street corners. Both are valid options, but evangelization is much broader than this. At its core, evangelization is sharing the love of Jesus Christ with the person who is in front of us and inviting that person to develop his or her own relationship with Him. What that looks like depends on you.
But let’s start here with a prayer:
Jesus, please show me one person in my life that you want me to share your love with today.
Now go do it.