By Chris Benzinger
"Do you evangelize?"
[insert cringe here]
Why do we have a negative gut reaction when someone suggests that we should evangelize? I have heard all kinds of reasons why some Christians, especially Catholics, don’t evangelize – we don’t really understand what evangelization is, it is not our job, we don’t know how to do it, and the list goes on. And let’s be honest, some people on TV and on street corners give evangelization a bad name.
In this series of blogs, we will look at a few reasons or “myths” for not evangelizing. We will bust these myths and give all Christians the tools to be effective evangelizers in our world.
Q: "Why don’t you evangelize?"
A: "I am not an evangelist. That’s for preachers on TV, priests, and over-excited Christians but it is not for me."
You may not be a TV evangelist, a priest or an over-excited Christian, but that does not refute your role as an evangelist. At the heart of this myth is a huge misunderstanding that evangelization is something that only a select group of Christians do.
Yet, the Church makes it very clear that evangelization is more than an activity, more than something that we do. Evangelization is who we are. It is our identity as baptized Christians.
“Pope Paul VI, in the groundbreaking document on evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), confirms that “evangelizing all people constitutes the essential mission of the Church… Evangelizing is in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize, that is to say, in order to preach and teach the Gospel (EN 14).
As baptized Christians, we are the Church; we are the body of Christ. As the body of Christ, we exist to share to love of God with others. We exist in order to evangelize.
When St. Paul realized that he did not exist for himself, he proclaimed, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; in so far as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Gal 2:20).
Christ lives in us, with us and through us. Christ isn’t just the reason we share love; Christ IS the love that we share. So sharing the love of Christ is who we are.
Fortunately, however, we don’t have to live that out like the people that you see on TV or on the street corners. It is simple but not easy. Remember that Christ lives in us and share the love of God with the people that we see in our everyday lives.
Myth #1: BUSTED!
Evangelization is more than an activity; it is our deepest identity!
How would your day and your interactions with others be different if you were convinced that Christ lives in you?