We tend to notice things that affect us, things that are like us, i.e. when we buy a new car we suddenly notice how many cars like it are on the road.
During a record breaking snow a few years ago in DC, worst in 122 years, we heard folks understand that as proof that global warming was not really happening. People in the area spoke as though the entire world was covered in snow. Just because we were experiencing a blizzard, it seemed that there was an assumption our experience was the same as others. During the same week, there were reports that Vancouver was having trouble getting time for the athletes to do the practice they wanted because of a lack of snow. They had 3-feet of snow when they would normally have 10-feet that time of year.
We can limit our understanding to our own experience.
I told you that so I could tell you this. Evangelism has gotten a bad name because of people who have abused others in the hope of sharing the Good News. In the past, and I suspect in some cases, still, evangelism was presented as though ‘we’ had God and we were bringing God to ‘others’.
Wherever we go, whoever we meet, God is already there…already working in their lives. When we share the Good News of what God has done through Jesus, we want to recognize that reality. Sometimes the best way to share what God is doing in someone’s life is by pointing out where you see that happening with him or her. When we approach someone as if they were God forsaken, we misrepresent God. We represent as though Jesus belongs to us and we are graciously including others…lifting ourselves up when we ought to be lifting up Jesus.
Nudging folks into recognizing God in their lives, rather than what seems like forcing God on them, also may reduce any barriers or suspicion raised when folks question our motives or sincerity. It also makes our evangelizing less frightening if we lift the burden of thinking it is up to us to bring, present, and establish God in others’ lives. It seems more natural, more comfortable, to nudge folks into awareness of the God who is already in their lives.
Evangelism is not a matter of setting aside time to carry God somewhere, but rather to recognize God as our, and others’, constant companion. We may even learn something new about God by recognizing how someone else experiences God.
May we all be truly aware that God loves us and there is nothing we can do about it.
Love and blessings,