Chris Erdman is one of the new blogs I’m reading lately. His reflections here entitled Pregnant with Jesus: the Body, Hospitality, and Evangelism is timely in my mini-quest for a more wholistic practice of “evangelism” at its best!
We in our day have allowed ourselves to be bullied away from the supreme joy of evangelism. We’ve been led to believe that evangelism is about method, content, and contest. And since most of us don’t have the method, don’t know enough, and shy away from a confrontation, we don’t think we’re up to the evangelical task. Sad. I’m certain that we’re missing out on a great wonder.
Albert Peyriguere once said, “Perhaps living Christ is the supreme way to speak of him. There are too many apostles to speak about him and not enough to live him.” If “Christ in us” is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1.27), and Communion or the Eucharist makes this mystery visible, tangible, real, then might we not be empowered for a different kind of evangelism–that is, a bodily, experiential evangelism rather than merely matching mental wits with another, using words, logic, rational argument for conquest? The latter seems to me to be largely foreign to the approach of Jesus, and even of Paul, the apparently most rational of the New Testament writers.
Charles de Foucauld, the missionary/monk who served as a witness to Jesus among the poor and largely Muslim communities on the living edge of the Saharah over 100 years ago, recently put this idea to work in my body. The visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, he says, is a model of evangelization. Mary, that wondrous host of God himself (Luke 1.31ff), enters her cousin’s household and Elizabeth and John in her own womb leap for joy (1.41). She evangelized “not by her words but by silently carrying Jesus close to them, to their dwelling.” Following her example, could we too “evangelize and sanctify the unfaithful by carrying Jesus to their midst in silence, by carrying him, our evangelical life, in our own lives which should provide an example of his.”
I’ve wondered these last few days, as I’ve felt the inner tug of a gall bladder problem (not yet bad enough for surgery), if I might rather than find that tug bothersome, embrace it as a reminder that I too am “pregnant” with Jesus Christ and that I carry him with me wherever I go, living in continuous meditation, contemplation, and adoration. What kind of evangelism might God, who is the chief evangelist, be doing in and through me without me even trying to make it happen? I’m also sure that living this way will invite opportunities to speak of Jesus, and by then, I may have a much more interested listener.