How can we continue? It’s a question that can be asked in desperation, for example, when couples wonder about the future of their relationship. It also can be asked, for example, when a leadership team strategizes about the future of their organization, as our staff soon will do on our retreat later this month. In either case, what is sought is a way forward into the future.
Over the last four weeks, we have put the question to you about the future of Christianity. Since September, we have listened to messages of healing in ourselves, our neighborhoods, and our families, and I hope that you have been reflecting on your own sense of spiritual wellness. But all of this development in faith will “bear fruit that will last” only to the extent we are able to answer the question: How can we continue?
In our current message series for Easter called, To Be Continued: Fearless Evangelization, we have been presenting several ways to communicate our own healing and faith development to the wider world. Of course, sharing your faith directly and boldly will always fulfill Christ’s command to “go and make disciples.” But the premise of this series has been that we also can spread the message of Christ in ways that are not rigid, artificial, or imposing. Here’s what we’ve learned so far:
1. Evangelize By Example:
Saint Paul said that “a little yeast leavens the whole dough” for good or for ill. We have been commissioned by Christ to testify to his truth. Whatever yeast we provide—good or bad—will affect how others perceive Christ and Christianity.
2. Evangelize Through Forgiveness:
When Jesus appeared to the frightened apostles after his resurrection, he said that those “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them.” When we find a way to offer genuine forgiveness to those who least deserve it, they are drawn closer to the grace and mercy of God, which is the very definition of evangelization.
3. Evangelize Through Perseverance:
The apostles rejoiced that they had suffered dishonor for the sake of Christ when brought before the religious authorities. In some of his last words, Christ told Peter that he would soon “stretch out [his] hands” and suffer. These readings point to the value of persevering nobly through difficult times, inspiring others to draw close to the cross of Christ when they are in pain.
4. Evangelize By Investing In Others:
Jesus is the Good Shepherd gathering people together into one flock. The core image of the Church is a great multitude gathered in worship. God’s work is ours. Look for “providential relationships” in the people around you and invest in them to bring them more fully into God’s flock.
This Sunday, we reflect on how to evangelize through a particular type of love. Listen live or online to our message of encouragement.
--Father Roger Gustafson, Pastor
Father Roger Gustafson