Most Episcopalians I know are skeptical of evangelism. Honestly, so am I. Evangelism conjures images of opening your front door only to find a pushy man with a comb-over asking if you have “heard the good news.” One pastor I met a long time ago referred to his job as “selling fire insurance.” There is something uncomfortable about the way many Christians evangelize—it seems like Christians think they have an absolute knowledge that should be adopted regardless of circumstance or culture. If you don’t believe what they tell you…well, that’s where the fire comes into play.
Evangelism in the Greek simply means to preach the Gospel, or to spread the Good News. If we believe, as Christians, that we have something positive to share with the world, it makes sense that we would talk about it. Our goal becomes sharing the Good News of God in Christ with the world without being coercive, judgmental, or proud. Why? Because truly good news is never those things; the good news that we share is simply love. Deep, enduring, unfathomable love that we find in our God. Sharing this good news is a difficult charge. However, when we believe that Jesus changes our lives for the better, we want to invite other people into a life with Christ hoping that they find that same love.
Even as a priest, I am comfortable with the idea that many people I know will never be Christian. I don’t think I need to convince them of Christianity to save them from eternal torment. Instead, when I talk about Christianity and Jesus, and I often do, I share because I am passionate about my faith. I share my faith with others because it’s an important part of myself. I tell people about God because I know that my life would be incomplete without God.
A little while ago, Rev. David Smith and I were talking about the Great Commission in Matthew 28. He said that Jesus invites us to go and make disciples of all nations; this commission should not be interpreted as a legalistic command. Instead, the great commission is an invitation to share God’s love with our neighbors. At St. Thomas, I believe we can proclaim God’s love to the world, we can invite people into relationship with Jesus, and we can share the Good News.