They don't have set firm beliefs.
They don't read the Bible.
They don't do ANY kind of evangelism.
They are simply lazy!
Has anyone ever heard anything along these lines? I know I have.
Who also cringed a little bit at that word.....you know the one I am talking about. Evangelism.
The definition of Evangelism in the dictionary is defined as 1. Zealous preaching and dissemination of the gospel, as through missionary work or 2. Militant zeal for a cause.
These are pictures of street Evangelists doing their thing at my old stomping ground. Walking to class at the great University of Tennessee, you always risked running into someone who would tell you that you were going to Hell.
On my way to class and not church. Going to Hell.
Going to a football game instead of reading my Bible. Going to Hell.
Spend more time in the library studying than in worship. Going to Hell.
I even think I was once told I was going to Hell because I laughed at something they said on my way to class. I found humor in his message. Hell Bound!
Maybe it is me but I don't think the response to someone spreading the message of God should be "We hate you." Maybe that's just me. Maybe yelling at and condemning people to Hell isn't the best way to spread the word of God.
Well, yea Matthew, that is why we as Episcopalians don't do that!
So, Episcopalians don't or are not suppose to evangelize?
Well, yes and no. At least that is what I think.
Earlier I gave you the definition of Evangelist but where does that word come from?
Believe it or not, it was a actual the term used for the four authors of the Gospels. They were "preachers of the Gospel" or "bringers of good news". Hmm, intersting... Also if you break down the word "evangelist" to the core root words you get -eu-"good" plus angellein "announce" which comes from angelos meaning "messenger".
Angelos, well that word looks familiar!
So what happened that this word given to the authors of the Gospels, these bringers of good news, these angels of God has changed so much that the militant can be found in it's defintion!?
Honestly, I do not know the answer but I do know that because of this change in the words connotation many Christians today feel that evangelism is wrong and we shouldn't do it.
Again, I disagree.
We are called to evangelize. We are called to spread the word of the Gospel!
Mark 16:15 "And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."
Ok, so we are suppose to evangelize...if you use the original meaning of the word of spreading the Gospel.
1 Corinthians 1:17 " For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power."
Wait....what did the second part of the that!? Not with my words? Then HOW!?!?!
Incarnational theology. The believe that things are good. Everything is good! Yes, things in excess can be bad. But things in moderation in the right amounts are GOOD! God is good. God made everything. And after he created it he sat back and saw and said what?
And it was good!!
I recently returned from a trip were a group of 21 traveled to Ocoee, TN to go whitewater rafting trip. This has been an annual trip for some time now and is always a blast. This year, we just focused on being "here" and remembering that "this" is good!
Seeing a group of youth, a few who have never done any trips or retreats with our church, who did not grow up Episcopal, all come together to form this wonderfully beautiful community in a matter of hours...to me that is what it is all about.
Whether it was during the questionable food at Dairy Queen. The successful and failed attempts at doing magic tricks. Not being in the van you wanted to be in. Wearing your helmet backwards. Getting hurt. Doing the dishes. Cooking dinner. Falling out of the raft. Getting thrown out of the raft. Swimming through underwater tunnels. Seeing 17 high schoolers make the decision to spend time with each other and not texting people that weren't there. Doing Compline each night. Not wanting to go to sleep because you just want to stay up talking with you friends all night. Spending 10 mins in self reflection at the foot of the cross at Sewanee.
It was good.
I watched as this group unknowingly worked miracles as evangelists. Not with their words or by yelling or condemning anyone. But by living a life of love and compassion. And by sharing their gifts of laughter and joy with each other. It was a wonderful trip.
It was good.