I started out wanting to disagree with the author of the post, http://wp.me/p3Ptcl-9W, but I ended up agreeing with his view. I guess I was caught up with the word “free will.” That made the title more controversial than if it was “The Arrogance of Individualism Christianity.” Then again, if that was the title, I would’ve agreed and not bothered to read his post.
I’m not sure I agree with his last sentence, though: “Instead of preaching your personal testimony, preach the Gospels and the good things that Christ did for all of us—that is the definition of evangelism.” There are times where our personal testimony is a good way to evangelize. If an acquaintance or friend asked me why I converted to Catholicism or how I came to believe in God when I was a vocal atheist, my personal testimony would be important. Yet, I can see how my personal testimony out of context wouldn’t be effective. Then again, talking about the Gospels out of context and without establishing a relationship first with the people you’re addressing is also ineffective. That’s why Pope Francis said in a recent interview that “Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense.”
I feel a call to evangelize, but not standing-on-a-soapbox-in-the-street-corner type of evangelization. I remember reading Scott Hahn saying that we should live our lives as if it was a billboard. Do I live a life full of joy? Or do I look grouchy because I always have to be good & moral all the time? It is especially during the times of stress and difficulty that I can be a great witness to God. Maintaining my peace and joy during a hectic trade mission, or finding the time to counsel others while going through a personal crisis… this is how I can live out a life of constant evangelization. Be a good father. Be a good husband. Be a good officer. This is a higher calling because it is more difficult; I actually have to live out daily what I want to preach and internalize what the Gospel teaches. And the only way I can do that is by changing my heart, work out my interior self. I can’t just cover myself with Bible verses. I have to let the Holy Spirit do open-heart surgery.
Just as a bodily open-heart surgery is scary for people, a spiritual open-heart surgery is even scarier. You can physically see a doctor and look up her credentials. You can’t see the Holy Spirit and her scalpel of wisdom gently revealing the soul. This brings to mind a current friendship. I’m trying to be a good spiritual big brother to another diplomat. He’s having a tough time coming back to God. He knows he has wounds as has admitted as much. He acknowledges that he has a God-shaped hole in his heart that he tries to fill up with other things. He knows he needs to pray, to go back to church, but he still drags his feet. Just like a person would if he had to go into surgery.
How did I consent? At what point did I say “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s knife? Contemplation, self-reflection. Is that the secret? I’ve never been afraid of just sitting and thinking about the fuzz on my navel. If I can only pick one thing that I’m good at, I’d say I’m good at thinking about myself (haha). I have high intrapersonal intelligence. Normal men, according to Richard Rohr’s book “From Wild Man to Wise Man,” don’t like to be introspective and think about feelings, emotions. It doesn’t come naturally. I remember what a breakthrough it was for my aforementioned friend to just accept moments of solitude to self-reflect. He had previously filled his life with many empty-calorie social engagements. It was a long road, but at least my friend now has a diagnosis.
- Did Pope Francis really just say that evangelization is “nonsense”? 8 things to know and share… (ncregister.com)