Oh, I know, we shouldn't proselytize. We shouldn't offend. We shouldn't "push" our own religious convictions on others. But when will we make disciples? When will we invite?
Throughout the history of the Church, the saints have spoken some very valuable pearls of wisdom. But there's one quotable quote I wish wasn't misquoted (and misattributed) so often. I'll bet that within the past year, you've heard it, too. It usually goes something like this: "Preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary, use words." This exhortation is invariably credited to the illustrious St. Francis of Assisi, although there is no evidence he ever said or wrote anything even remotely like it.
It bothers me more than usual at this time of year, when we hear the accounts of Jesus appearing to his disciples after his resurrection. Jesus is seen at the empty tomb, in the Upper Room, on the road to Emmaus, and along the shores of Galilee. I just can't keep from wondering where we'd all be if the women, or the 11, or the 70, or the 500 had never actually announced the Good News. What if they had never opened their mouths to tell anyone who would listen that Christ had been raised from the dead? What if they had been unwilling to take the risk?
Surely, it is important to preach by example; there should be no distance whatsoever between what Christians say and how they live. But it is equally important, especially in our times, to stand up and proclaim the wonders God has done for us. Salvation isn't meant to be a secret guarded by a few; it is God's plan for the whole world. And while not everyone will listen politely or be interested in what we have to say, some will hear and believe. They will find faith because someone loved them enough to share Jesus with them.
Oh, I know, we shouldn't proselytize. We shouldn't offend. We shouldn't "push" our own religious convictions on others. But when will we make disciples? When will we invite? When will we go into the world and offer what we say is the single most important part of our lives to others?
In less than 40 days, we'll be standing on the Mount of Olives as Jesus ascends to the Father. We'll be listening to what the Church has called The Great Commission. But I fear that for far too many of us, the last words of Christ to his disciples have become The Great Omission. That's because we've decided it's too dangerous, too rude, too undignified to say much of anything at all when it comes to our faith. We have bent over backwards to talk around Christ rather than about him.
It's time to speak the name of Jesus out loud. It's time to admit openly that God speaks to us, to state plainly that he comes to us, to let people know that he calls us and that he calls them, too. And more, it's time to support one another in bringing the message of Christ's resurrection to souls trapped in a death-driven world. We shouldn't have to worry about fellow Christians thinking we're crazy. But if they do, we're in good company with Mary Magdalene, with Peter and John, with the two who ran all the way back to Jerusalem from Emmaus, and the apostles on Pentecost who were anything but drunk.
We have seen the Lord. The message we bring can be summed up in one word: Alleluia. The Lord is risen; he is risen indeed, and he has appeared to Peter. We must stop shrinking in fear and start boldly proclaiming that Jesus has conquered sin and death. There is no more time to worry about what others think of us. There's only time for every one of us to tell it like it is.
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.
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