You Are an Evangelist

Jesus is with you when you glorify him. He’ll give you what you need.

Matthias Stom, “Jesus Christ and Nicodemus,” ca. 1645
Matthias Stom, “Jesus Christ and Nicodemus,” ca. 1645 (photo: Public Domain)

You are an evangelist.

Jesus is the first and greatest evangelizer, but you’re his. So you’re his evangelizer. We were created by God for love, then captured by the enemy and our own sin, but then rescued by Jesus from that disastrous failure. And now we each must respond to him.

But this message is about who should deliver this message. Nobody but you is going to reach your child in the kitchen at that critical moment in that conversation. You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the moment when you need to be completely available to her when she asks that critical question about your faith.

Nobody but you is there to help her. The same is true of your neighbor, your co-worker, your friend. There are certain moments in people’s lives when there’s just no alternative to you: to you being the one who helps them in that moment to establish or deepen their relationship with God, with Jesus.

And if you don’t do it, that might be what sentences them to an eternity without God. Pretty heavy guilt trip, right? And yet it’s true. I’m sorry. Each of us, including you, has a responsibility to speak in love at the critical moment when someone opens his or her heart to you.

Each of us who believes this great story is excited by the beauty and power of it. This excitement can — and should — be what bubbles up and prompts you to share our story with others. If you’re going to share the greatest story ever out of a sense of obligation or for any other reason than your love and joy, it can really come across as flat and inauthentic.

Think of this: there’s something you’re already an evangelist about. Something you love. Some topic you share at every opportunity. You invite discussion. You feel strongly people need to know what you’ve discovered. You’re eager and excited for others to see it, too. There’s the energy we want.

You know how to do it, and I can prove it to you: “Let me tell you about this new restaurant. It’s amazing. You got to try it. So good.” See what I mean? You find it perfectly natural to evangelize on behalf of your favorite restaurant because you genuinely love its food.

So take that excitement and enthusiasm, that energy, and think about your God, about Jesus. Isn’t it at least possible for you to imagine sharing the greatest love story ever told? Now, some people need evidence of your love for God. Take a look at James 2:18, the evidence of your faith is what you do. Your actions reveal the content of your faith.

Catholics talk about spiritual works of mercy and corporal works of mercy. These are evangelism toolsets. Our works are evidence of our faith for others, and not everyone will share in the same way. There’s a million different ways you can share the good news of Jesus, perhaps with service, with food, or words, or encouragement, or gifts.

But whatever things you do for others out of love for Jesus, you must be ready to explain why with words. “Because I love you. I see Jesus in you.” You’ve got excuses, I bet. “I’m not confrontational.” “I’m not gifted.” “I’m not a good speaker.” “I’m a sinner.” “I don’t feel called by the Lord to do this.”

Okay, Moses. Okay. Let’s start with the last objection. “I don’t feel called.” All I have to say to you is read 2 Corinthians. It says the message of salvation is entrusted to us and that you, that’s singular, are an ambassador of Christ. You are called. Whether you feel it or not, you always have this one job. “But I’m a sinner,” you object.

Welcome to the club. We’re all guilty. Do it anyway. But our sinfulness raises a good point. The call to evangelize is also a call to be the best you there is. So say your prayers, go to confession. And, of course, go to Mass.

Get your heart right before God. The Christian life is a continuous getting up after falling, a continuous turning away from sin. Don’t stop. Married men, you said something unkind to your wife. Do you just stop trying? No, you apologize, get right with her, and start evidencing your love to her with action. If you don’t get right with God, you’ll every time miss the moment of evangelization. You just won’t see it. You won’t hear it. And the opportunity will pass, and heaven will grieve.

Let me tell you what I mean here. A woman I know of was going through a very difficult time. One day, she was on the phone with several colleagues, all of whom don’t believe in God, except one. And it’s not like this woman was oversharing details about her life, but that one colleague was attuned in just the right way. She waited on the phone until everyone else was gone and asked, “Can I pray for you?” It was a little awkward, but it was just the right question at just the right time. And now, both are deeper friends in Christ. And this woman was brought back to the Church, and both still connect over their faith. Her other colleagues couldn’t hear what she needed was just that one question, “Can I pray for you?”

Friends, if you’re living in Christ, he will show you the opportunities to glorify him. Evangelism is always going to be risky and difficult. You’ll be vulnerable. You’re never going to escape the tough work of communicating the story in a persuasive way. But Jesus is with you. He’ll give you what you need. He will make it effective. Not you. You need only participate in his work. Take courage. Jesus changes everything.

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