Random thoughts: evangelizing

Maybe I am just a coward, but it certainly seems daunting to try to spread the good news of Jesus in my corner of the world.  Evangelizing today seems different from evangelizing in the past. I got to thinking about this after hearing a Scripture reading at Mass recently, about Elijah challenging the prophets of Baal to a contest.  Elijah and the prophets prepared bulls for sacrifice, and the challenge was this:  each side was to call on their deity to send fire down to make a sacrificial holocaust of the bulls.  The prophets of Baal went first.  They beseeched and sang and chanted, to no avail. Then Elijah called upon the Lord, and immediately fire came down and consumed the sacrifice.  “Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, ‘The Lord is God’.” (1 Kings 18:39)

In this story, for these people, it was a matter of whose deity was the most powerful.  The people being evangelized here naturally turned towards a mighty and responsive God.  No doubt similiar dynamics were at work with the evangelizing of the New World by the Spanish, as well as in Africa.  The people were influenced by the evidence of power in the followers of God.  One universal factor that served as a foundation for all of these diverse peoples was that they already believed that there is a God. It was a given that spiritual beings existed and were active in the lives of humanity. It was a matter of whose god was best.

But it seems a different circumstance today.  It is difficult to share the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Son of God,  without first addressing the underlying premise: it is not a “given” that God exists for many people in our secular world.  Evangelizing today, in my militantly secular town, seems to first require “proof” that there is a God at all,  before there is even a hint of acknowledgment that learning more about Jesus’ teachings might be of value.  Following the Word of God seems to be secondary consideration to a people who will not accept the very existence of His Father.  How can one touch the hearts of such people?

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About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
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9 Responses to Random thoughts: evangelizing

  1. Holly Michael says:

    Thought provoking, for sure. There’s a billboard I’ve seen some where that reads: When you die, you WILL meet God. At least if people understood that, you’d think they’d begin to wonder. For me, seeing Gods miracles, I’d have to apply more faith to NOT believe, if that makes sense.

    • reinkat says:

      I agree totally. Especially after seeing 2 miracles of healing just these past months. Nothing refreshes one’s faith like witnessing a miracle! 🙂
      I wish there were more good billboards like the one you describe. The images you see and the words you hear do become part of who you are, and have a profound effect. We need to feed ourselves good ones!

  2. Biltrix says:

    I have several Catholic friends who are converted atheists. Each story is a miracle and every story includes the living testimony of a Christian who influenced their life at a crucial moment. You never know whose life you will touch or how God will work through you. I know one guy who knew nothing about the Christian faith until he joined the army. He learned the basics from a bookstore owner. Eventually, he was baptized in a garbage can in Iraq. Now he’s a priest.

  3. reinkat says:

    Wow, that is an amazing story. You are so right that you never know whose life you will touch, or how. All we can do is plant the seed. It is God who works through our lives, and I think I just made the mistake of thinking it was all about me (again) and how if I just had the right words, I’d convince them . . .

  4. SR says:

    “Proof there is a God.” St. John of the Cross said it best, “If God were a figment of my imagination I could produce Him at will.” This we cannot do, not even to prove He exist. God does not need our help in this, He is quite capable of doing it Himself. I think sometimes we get confused about if we should “prove” God or “show” God to others. I know that has been the case a lot in my life. God I have learned can “prove” Himself very well. I think like Jesus did, we are supposed to “show the love of God to others.” That is what He came to show Israel, that God is a God of love. They thought He was very much a “tyrant.” As Jesus was, it is often rejected. Good post and God Bless, SR

  5. reinkat says:

    SR, so glad that you are back. I have missed you a lot. As always, your observations are full of wisdom. Your distinction between “proving God” and “showing God” is spot on. I need to remember this, might even write it down and paste it in my work locker. I need to remember this distinction every minute, and get rid of my confusion over it. My ego has gotten in the way again. Thank you for this insight.

  6. SR says:

    Hey Reinkat,

    I do not know if it is so much ego in us, as at times if we are trying to “prove” God does exist, we are truly at a lost of “how” to. I have found in these moments in my life, it is very easy to give up on all of it, as how can I “prove” this? I finally learned my best bet, is just to “show” others God, as this is what He indeed gave me the capability to do. I understand what you mean by “ego” as I have felt the same way a lot. It is almost like I asked myself, “What is the point?” “I know He exist and that is enough.” It is like trying to “prove” to someone Jesus is truly in the Holy Eucharist. I do not see Him there, I do not taste His Blood it taste like wine to me. I know He is there. Can I prove it to anyone other than what is said in Scripture? Absolutely not! I cannot hold a Chalice and say, “Here is the Blood of Christ” and they look down and taste it and it is wine. I think the reason we can believe God exist and Jesus is in the Holy Eucharist is because we have the “gift” of faith. How blessed we are to have it. When others reject this “gift of faith” there is not much we can do, except to “pray” and “show. God Bless, SR

  7. SR says:

    A thought just hit me and I had to come back. Remember in the Bible when Jesus was trying to tell all of His followers that He is truly in the Bread and Wine, and they turned and left Him. Always remember He let them “go in their disbelief.” He did not call them back and try to convince them. Jesus never tried over and over to convince anyone of anything. He stated what He stated and they took what they took. In fact He said, “Shake the dust off of your feet, if not received.” God Bless, SR

  8. reinkat says:

    Thank you. I am turning this over and over again in my mind. I keep going back to what you said about showing people God, not proving Him or convincing them of Him.

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