By Chris Benzinger
In the last post we look a look at the idea that because we don't know enough, haven't read enough, are unprepared to teach enough, that we cannot share our faith with others. We came to the conclusion that our faith is about a relationship with a person not a relationship with facts. When we know Jesus, we have all the material we need to share him with others.
Myth #2 was busted!
Now lets take a look at myth #3...
We've all seen them, and I for one have never wanted to join them. If evangelization was just about yelling at people, wanting to avoid it would be understandable. But is that really evangelization?
Many shouting on the street corners claim that if you don’t turn from your evil ways and give your life to Jesus, you are going to Hell. While that is a fair point for discussion, is it really the place to begin? Rather than sharing the hope and love of Christ with others, they choose to use a scare tactic. It is using negative motivation to influence someone’s behavior: "If you don’t [fill in the blank], then [fill in the bad thing] will happen to you."
One might say that they are sharing the “Fear of the Gospel”. Pope Francis takes a very different approach.
Instead of speaking to the bad that will happen if you don’t, he speaks to the joy you will experience if you do. He is very intentional even in the title of the “Joy of the Gospel”. The motivation for having a relationship with Jesus isn't fear of the bad that will happen if you don't but joy in the good that will happen if you do. We are invited to be in relationship with Jesus because it is so good and joyful to live in his love.
Pope Francis explains how to approach others with the Gospel: “Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attractiveness’” (EN 15).
People are attracted to stories, encounters, and invitations, not impositions and obligations.
When we encounter Jesus, we know that a full life in Christ is the best life – a life so good that we want to share it with others. It does not mean that life will be easy, but it does mean that Jesus will be with us and that he will give meaning to our lives.
“All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength and gives meaning to our lives” (EN 121).
He is close. He is our strength. He gives life when we need it most. Jesus tells us himself that he is “the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6).
Share your story with someone today – no street corners, no yelling needed.
Myth #3: BUSTED!
People are attracted to stories, encounters, and invitations not scare tactics, impositions and obligations.
Questions for Reflection:
When has Jesus been close? When has Jesus provided strength? When has Jesus given meaning to your life? Who can you share that story with today?