I mentioned in my last blog that I was preparing to teach an adult Sunday school class on evangelism. My desire with this update is to briefly describe that which I taught and what I learned over the course of March.
The main idea that I taught over the course of the four-week class was a character driven creativity. The first two weeks I talked about how addressing how our character effects how we interact with people. Then the next two weeks I talked about how to creatively think about engaging people relationally. The idea, therefore, is that if we first look at Christian anthropology, that is, if we see that knowing one thing over the next doesn’t make us superior to others, we can then speak honestly and truly to anyone and everyone that might be in our life for a long or short amount of time. For if we see that all people are equal, then we can engage in a loving manner and with compassion no matter what kind of perspective people might have on life. The conversations had and actions done by those whom profess Christ as Lord must stem not out of pity, but of love. Once love is the motivator and initiator then the needs of people, whether it’s an intellectual inquiry, an emotional heartache, or a physical need, can be heard, seen, and appropriately engaged. That engagement with others is none other than Christ himself, if indeed we believe that we are spiritually unified with Him.
My intent in teaching on evangelism was to connect the deep theological truths of the catholic faith with a fresh approach to where we are socially, politically, and economically. As I mentioned above, we engaged this idea of Christian anthropology. We talked about how humans are primarily loving creatures rather than thinking ones. Descartes’ “I think therefore I am,” unfortunately promulgated the notion that our identity is based off of what we know or think. Rather, the reality is that we do things based out of what we love. If we consider the habits in our life, we might see what we prioritize most. St Augustine wrote that our hearts are restless until they rest in God. The understanding is that our physical bodies were created in the spiritual realm, creating a spiritual and physical desire to fill that which our deepest need seeks, which can only be filled by the infinite and eternal God of the old and new scriptures.
Moreover, the one holy catholic and apostolic church holds this salvation. It is passed on by the laying on of hands and the transferring of the memories of the church within its teaching. The church’s creed is the bedrock, which we are anchored to in order to be the safe harbor for those seeking peace in the chaotic seas of the world. So our evangelistic efforts are not that of simply selling an item, but rather we are actively creating peace in various situations. Whether someone is seeking an answer to a difficult question about God, Jesus, or the church, we can speak to that need. To those who are emotionally distraught over the loss of a family member, we can know how to sit silently being an encouragement to them. Or physically, we can give our jacket to a homeless man who needs it for an impending cold night.
I was intentionally vague concerning specific models and methods of evangelism because I believe that humans can creatively overcome obstacles when needs must be met. Rather, I spoke to the nature of ordering our own life in line with the love of God so that we can be instruments of peace when we encounter disorder outside of the church. Lives are changed through relationships and words of truth spoken at the proper times.
These thoughts and lessons have come and gone in the midst of a busy semester here at the House. It often feels surreal to consider that I’m doing precisely that which the Lord has called me to do. Albeit, not yet being ordained I can still engage the local church in a way that is beneficial not only the community but for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
I am enjoying my studies. Although there is a lot of information to engage, it is good to have an outlet to teach different things that I learn both in the parish and in the larger community. So not only do I get to teach what I learn, but I get to practice what I learn and teach. The draw back is that I feel tired and have developed a nice little eye twitch.