Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Excuse Me, Brother--Have You Been Saved?

My wife had a friend of hers start a thread on his Facebook page. Evidently, someone had approached him on YouTube and asked him if he knew where he was going to spend eternity . . . heaven or hell. It sounded like there was an exchange between these two people but I do not know what it exactly was. Judging by her friend’s original statement he was a little miffed that someone was trying to “save” him. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was because of this guy’s delivery. The responses to his original post were for the most part atheistic or at the very least agnostic.

The thing that I found interesting was the expressions of disgust or even almost anger in some of the replies that someone would have the audacity to try to “save” this person. Now, I’m coming from a Catholic perspective. Catholics, for the most part, aren’t the type to wear their faith on their shirt sleeve. We certainly aren’t really the type to go out and start a conversation about religion and to try to convert someone, especially after Vatican II. By golly, that just wouldn’t be ecumenical!! Many Catholics, if asked, “Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior” would probably give you a quizzical look andanswer you with a “yeeeeaahhhhhh---sure??”
Here is the thing though—these people who are trying to evangelize do not have anything to gain by whether or not someone converts to Christianity or not. They don’t get first-class accommodations in Heaven if they win 25 converts or more. They don’t get a room with a view if they convert a big name celebrity. They are doing it because they are showing concern for you. They believe that the only way to Heaven is through Jesus Christ (which IS true) and that if you reject Jesus you are going to Hell. (The topic about those who have never heard of Jesus, or Jews or whatever is a total other topic) Bottom line is that these evangelists are trying to introduce you to Jesus because they want to help ensure you going to Heaven.

Think of it this way. Pretend I am a stock broker or someone else who knew lots about money. Now, I see you putting your money into some junk stock that is going to ruin you forever. It will put you in such financial ruin that you will never be able to get out of it. I would be a horrible person if I did not steer you into the right direction wouldn’t I? Don’t I have some sort of responsibility to direct you to the stocks that will lead to your life-long wealth? Would you be angry at me if I tried to help you live your life in financial security? They when would you be angry at someone who is trying to ensure that you have eternal riches?

Here is a little secret for all you who budding evangelists, though. Stop sounding like a used car salesman! You really have to reach people where they are and sometimes people are turned off automatically by the same old lines. Sometimes the best way to evangilzie is to let people see Jesus in you. I know for a fact that if I asked someone at work if they have found Jesus they would reply with "No, I didn't even realize he was missing!" I know that would be MY response. Take a lesson from St. Francis of Assisi who said, “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary—use words.”

1 comment:

  1. Oh, yes, the old misunderstanding of Vatican II that still plagues us. We Catholics SHOULD be doing a better job of evangelizing!

    The fact is, Vatican II was trying to encourage us to go out and spread the Gospel to all nations, in order that all might be united under Holy Mother Church! Not this pluralistic idea of "let's not offend anyone with our beliefs".

    And yes, as you say...the best way to evangelize is to love God, love our faith, LIVE holy lives! People come to Christ by what we do far more than what we say.

    While I agree with the sentiment in what St. Francis allegedly stated, you should know that he never said it. I think it was Jimmy Aikin who wrote up the facts somewhere but I can't recall the story as to how that particular myth came about. (As an aside, St. Augustine NEVER said "Singing is praying twice." Nope. Not even close.)

    Ah, we love our Saints so much we get their words wrong when trying to sum them up! ;-)