Wednesday was the Feast of St. Mark the Evangelist, which gives us a good opportunity to pause and reflect on the meaning of evangelism, and how we are meant to evangelize.
First off, let’s dispel with any perceived differences around the term “Evangelical Christianity,” and the socio-political implications of that phrase. Wherever you fall in the spectrum of social and political beliefs, this isn’t about that.
What this is about is evangelism in its universal, non-political sense: carrying into the world the good news of God’s unbridled, insatiable love for God’s children.
Mark gives us an image of this evangelism in the realization of Isaiah’s prophecy in the ministry of John the Baptist:
“See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.'” (Mark 1:2-3; references Isaiah 40:3)
Just as John the Baptist was called to prepare the way for Jesus, so too are we called to set straight paths for Christ to work in our community.
Our calling — our commission — is laid out in Mark 16:15: “Jesus said to the apostles, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.'”
Matthew spells out the mechanics of evangelism in greater detail, in the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
That gives us the end product of our commissioned work. Make disciples. Baptize. Teach.
But, by what means do we fulfill this commission? What manner of action and speech serves this commission?
As always, Jesus provided the answer before the question was asked.
He tells us in John precisely how we’re meant to spread the Gospel: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
How do we evangelize? By striving to embody the nature of the Word made flesh in Christ. We strive to live in love.
A quote from author Madeleine L’Engle beautifully expresses how this love — the effusing gift of God’s presence — draws, rather than coerces, people to Christ:
“We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
How do we evangelize?
We worry less about being right, and more about being love.
Be love. Allow God to love creation through you. And let that love cry out in the wilderness of a love-starved world.