For many Christians the word evangelism evokes a sense of fear and dread. The word often conjures up visions of preachers on street corners with bullhorns or stacks of spiritual tracts to be passed out door to door.
What does the word evangelism actually mean, and what does it actually call us to do? The original Greek word for evangelism translates as “gospel” or “good news” and as a verb, “to announce” or “bring good news.” Evangelism is what God calls us to do: announce God’s good news to the world.
In this passage, Jesus prepares his disciples to go into the world to share this gospel message. In so doing, he prays that the disciples “will be one just as [God and I] are one” (ceb). Before sending them out, Jesus calls them into relationship with God, with himself, and with other believers. What a blessing that we aren’t asked to do this evangelism thing alone!
This good news is “eternal life: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent” (John 17:3, ceb). The gospel message isn’t simply eternal life eventually; it’s relationship now—with God and with others. Richard Rohr, in his book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation, says the Way of Jesus is “an invitation to a Trinitarian way of living, loving, and relating—on earth as it is in the Godhead” (46). Living, loving, and relating with God and living, loving, and relating with people is how we can evangelize, sharing this gospel in our everyday lives.
Jesus prays this hope-full prayer before crossing the Kidron Valley on his way to the Garden. Jesus, knowing his death approaches, still speaks of the good news of love, relationship, and eternal life.
Holy Father, no matter what we face, may we continue to speak your good news of relationship, love, and life. Amen.
Scripture tells us that in our lives in general, and especially in our spiritual lives, we need to distinguish what is true from what is false. The psalmist admonishes us to follow the truth of God and flee wicked ideas. This week we read about Judas, who did not follow the psalmist’s advice—with disastrous results. In Acts the apostles seek to replace Judas among their number with a witness to Jesus who has not been led astray. In John’s Gospel, Jesus bemoans the loss of Judas and prays that his followers will cling to his words. The author of First John testifies that God’s words are trustworthy above all others. They bear witness to the life that comes through Christ, whose legitimacy was confirmed by his ascension into heaven.
• Read Acts 1:15-17, 21-26. When have you experienced the disruption of a meaningful relationship through death? How did you eventually recover?
• Read Psalm 1. When have you allowed the world to define you? How do you avoid that?
• Read 1 John 5:9-13. How have you come to know the testimony of God in your heart?
• Read John 17:6-19. What helps you sense God’s presence and protection?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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