August 13, 2017
The selection from Paul’s letter to the Romans opens the possibility for us to discuss a dirty little word that scares us in the Lutheran church. It is a word that makes people cringe whenever they hear it. At times, it can make people uncomfortable and anxious. Well, maybe not all people, but the majority would agree.
So, are you ready for it?
Are you sure?
The word is EVANGELISM!!!
Believe it or not, even though the word is part of our denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, it still scares us. Are we really expected to talk to people about our faith? Do we really have to share about Jesus? Perhaps we think we are just comfortable sitting right here. If people want to come to our church, they know how to find it.
I will admit, I may be exaggerating just a little. However, most of the mainline denominations take the same approach to evangelism. Perhaps it is the word that scares us. When we hear evangelism, we are reminded of those in the greater church that have co-opted the word and call themselves Evangelicals. Our Lutheran theology is often very different and is focused on grace instead of hell and damnation.
To evangelize, means that we are going to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. Within it, you can find the word angel. An angel is a bearer of good news to those in our bible stories. Who wouldn’t want to share good news?
That good news is present with us all the time. In Jesus Christ. I like the Message’s translation of Romans 10:8,
The word that saves is right here,
as near as the tongue in your mouth,
as close as the heart in your chest.
It is this good news that we are called to share with all those we encounter. Paul is learning this as he continues his ministry and wonders what will happen with his Jewish brothers and sisters. Evangelism is not about conversion. As much as we think we can make people follow Christ, that is impossible. Evangelism is about sharing the good news of Christ. It is about introducing people to the hope and wonder that is found in the bible. It is about living into the mystery that guides our lives daily. Evangelism can look like inviting people to church. To come experience the word alive and well in this place. Evangelism can look like inviting a friend to help you go serve food to the homeless. Evangelism can take on the image of those protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend. Ensuring that the love of Christ is for all, and making sure that those voicing hatred are not the only people being heard. Evangelism is about sharing our belief in the way that we know best.
Once we have that word of Christ on our lips and in our hearts, we can go out and share it. It is a beautiful thing. As Paul concludes our passage, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news.”
Those feet have a lot of miles on them. The feet of God brought the good news to Elijah in the silence, and in turn Elijah spread that good news to the people of Israel. Jesus’ feet brought good news to the disciples as they were anxious in the storm. They in turn journey forth to bring good news to others. Paul’s feet brought him to the many churches that were beyond the Jewish territory and people were encouraged to continue to spread the good news forward.
Where do your feet take you? Perhaps it is to speak up for the injustices in the world. To stand beside those in protest to hatred and racism in Charlottesville. It may be to spread love to those in your neighborhood. Your feet may even take you to social media to reach out to friends and family.
Are we expected to be perfect? Of course not. We are going to stumble while on our feet. Look at Peter, he fell face first into the water. Jesus was there for him when he cried out. Jesus is present for us when we cry out.