Last Sunday I preached to my congregation about evangelism – about Jesus as evangelist and that he first made relationship then disciples and, after chosen, the disciples need to make relationship and then disciples when they have an opportunity (Luke 5:1-11). I, too, would do well to remember to be an evangelist. Make relationship but be sure to take that to the next level.
One way to evangelize is through this blog. When I meet people, they virtually never ask me what I believe. There are people across the country reading this blog, so I think I will spend a bit of time writing about what I believe.
First and foremost, I believe in God and that Jesus is my Lord and Savior – that his life and death were lived for me as well as others to give new life to the world and offer us eternal life. Jesus came to change the status quo, not to start a new religion. We would all be Jews if the culture had accepted his radical changes. I also believe in the Holy Spirit though I am not sure that I believe in a Trinity. Mostly, that does not bother me – belief in God, as Creator, Jesus as living example and Holy Spirit as manifesting light and energy is good for me.
If people ask me about issues of the day, the first question is about “abortion” though I say “choice.” I believe in choice. This is not to say that I believe in the late-term aborting of a viable fetus; at the same time I do not believe life begins at conception, so early term abortion fits my values. I believe in teaching our youth about sex and responsibility and, yes, even responsible birth control. One of my issues with conservative Christians is that they often refuse to prepare their children for impulsive acts, so the act born out of raging hormones and the “it won’t happen to me” idea leads to too many young moms, who don’t usually have a young dad to help them parent.
When we talk about choice, though, I think we need to look to the other end of the spectrum – at dying. I want the “choice” to say when my productive life is over. I do not want to merely exist in a nursing facility barely remembering who I am or knowing my children should they visit. I do not want to be at the mercy of underpaid staff who would rather change a baby than an old lady. I do not want to gaze out a window and not see or hear the birds. Those are my choices. I have made them clear to my children. On the other hand, I respect that some understand living to be breathing and choose to have life in any way it manifests itself. I hope they make their choices clear to their children or medical decision makers.
Other things I believe: what makes a Christian different from a civic group is that we are required to find the people in society who are ill, or do without food or shelter, who are outcast in other ways and then we are required to change their situation even if that means trying to change the world. I would love to go to Africa or southern Mexico to minister to those who do without – probably can do that after everyone in my community who wants help is well, and well-fed and housed in homes that are above substandard, and have clothing that keeps them warm in cold Pennsylvania winters. If you come to our church, please understand that I will remind you about these people on a regular basis. I will also remind you to elect officials who have the same values as you and support organizations that care more for the downtrodden than they do their own paychecks. Oh, and support the arts and music and dancing as these help make our culture rich and full and extraordinary.
If you come to our church, bring your enthusiasm and your spirit and your open-mindedness to hear not only me but also others who are far more eloquent and bring your vocal voice and your smile and laughter and your broad acceptance because we are a fledgling congregation of different races and sexual orientations and physical and mental abilities. We all love to sing and hear Charles play the piano. Be ready to forgive me if I forget to do the Lord’s Prayer in the right place – sometimes divine inspiration reminds me at just the right time that I have left it out of the place it was expected. It is probably better where God placed than where I had it placed. Know, when you come, you are welcome to stay, to commune – which we do weekly - and to share your love with everyone.
I think this is a start for evangelizing. I think I will be more vocal in my networking arenas. Our congregation is growing, but there are way more people who want to hear this message than have found us. Even if my congregation does not benefit from my evangelizing, perhaps one person will. And that will make all the difference!
And all of the people of God said AMEN!