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Directions for the Culturally Challenged Evangelist

Devotional Thought of the Day:

After this the Lord chose another seventy-two men and sent them out two by two, to go ahead of him to every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 He said to them, “There is a large harvest, but few workers to gather it in. Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest. 3† Go! I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Don’t take a purse or a beggar’s bag or shoes; don’t stop to greet anyone on the road. 5 Whenever you go into a house, first say, ‘Peace be with this house.’ 6 If someone who is peace-loving lives there, let your greeting of peace remain on that person; if not, take back your greeting of peace. 7† Stay in that same house, eating and drinking whatever they offer you, for workers should be given their pay. Don’t move around from one house to another. 8 Whenever you go into a town and are made welcome, eat what is set before you, 9 heal the sick in that town, and say to the people there, ‘The Kingdom of God has come near you.’ Luke 10:1-9 GNT

Certainly, those who do not know Christ also do not know their right to hear His love and His plans for them. Nonetheless this right is real: it is, we might say, intrinsic to their humanity which God wills to fulfil in Christ.
Some people are tempted to abstain from announcing Christ because they believe that by this they would show themselves to be more respectful of the human and spiritual values already present in the cultures and religions of the world. In reality this is to show respect for a partial value, rather than allowing that value to come to its definitive realization—which is what happens when it encounters the Gospel. It is on the contrary a lack of respect for the values present in the cultures and religions of the world, as well as those in whom those values are found, when, in silencing the Gospel, we deprive them of what would have brought them to fulfilment.

66 These articles of the Creed, therefore, divide and distinguish us Christians from all other people on earth. All who are outside the Christian church, whether heathen, Turks, Jews, or false Christians and hypocrites, even though they believe in and worship only the one, true God, nevertheless do not know what his attitude is toward them. They cannot be confident of his love and blessing. Therefore they remain in eternal wrath and damnation, for they do not have the Lord Christ, and, besides, they are not illuminated and blessed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Living in one of the most diverse parts of the world is a challenge. Within 5 miles of my house are Islamic Centers of different types, A Center of Jainism, Mormon Stakes, Jehovah Witness Kingdom Halls, various forms Buddhist temples, A Namaste Center for Spiritual Living, and 20-30 other Spiritual and Religious communities I cannot identify.

As I look at this, my heart aches, for as these people seek for God, they miss the revelation of God’s love for them, the revelation of His love, as He sent Jesus, His Son to dwell with us. The apostles would testify as to His glory, and they were sent to share that glorious love with the world.

For century’s the way the church dealt with this was through force. Not a good idea and the church wasn’t the only religion to do so. This violence, seen in wars, personal attacks, and martyrdoms and many self-fulfilling “martyrs” today.

So how do we balance out this need (both ours to share, and their need to hear) the message of God’s love?

How do we respect their traditions, their journey trying to find divinity and the peace that comes from being united to God, while showing them the way God revealed to us that He would draw men and women to Him? How do we work with those who are cults, who have perverted the teaching of Jesus?

It is a difficult road to travel, and yet, the fact that it is a life long journey should help us on the road. For we can invite them to share a part of that journey, we can explore with them their beliefs. We can share with them the hope we have, even in the face of death.

Not as competitors to see whose belief system is better, to see who “wins”. But to know God’s heart toward us all. For there is the key, to know we are loved, to know His mercy and healing when we fail, to rejoice in the presence of God.

That is what we are called to do, to share the reason we have hope in this broken world, to draw people to Jesus with the promises made to us, and delivered through word and sacrament.

It is challenging, no one said it would be easy. But God is with us, and this is how he ministered to us.

Rey, D. (2012). Adoration and the New Evangelization. In A. Reid (Ed.), From Eucharistic Adoration to Evangelization (p. 10). London; New York: Burns & Oates.

Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 419). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

The Christian Religion; A Confident, Holy, Healing Walk With God.

Featured imageDevotional Thought of the Day:
9  The Lord is not slow to do what he has promised, as some think. Instead, he is patient with you, because he does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants all to turn away from their sins. 10  But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief. On that Day the heavens will disappear with a shrill noise, the heavenly bodies will burn up and be destroyed, and the earth with everything in it will vanish. 11  Since all these things will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people should you be? Your lives should be holy and dedicated to God, 2 Peter 3:9-11 (TEV)

26 Augustine also reminds us that we would understand the word “faith” in the Scriptures to mean confidence in God, assurance that God is gracious to us, and not merely such a knowledge of historical events as the devil also possesses.

378    Don’t be a pessimist. Don’t you realize that everything that happens or can happen is for the best? Optimism will be a necessary consequence of your faith. (2)

As I was going through my devotions this morning, there was a simplicity to the various readings I do.  It’s Monday, so a review of the basics seems appropriate.
The definition of faith found in the second quote got my mind moving.  Especially that word “confidence.”  Augustin is correct of course, and the amateur theologian sees the Latin for faith, “fide”, buried right in the middle.  To live life, not just believing in God, but having a relationship so deep, so nurtured by Him, that we trust Him.  To have faith means, we have confidence in His working in every part of our life.

That can only come from knowing God’s desire is not to condemn mankind, but to show us love, to cleanse and heal us from brokenness, to set us apart for a relationship with Him.  We trust Him do what He has promised! We know His heart and desire is to save us, to have us dwell in His peace.  We know His beauty,we know that He loves us, you and I.  Put you nickname there, God loves me.

Amazing!

That is why reading scripture is so essential in my life. Not because pastors and holy folk have to do it but to hear more of God’s heart toward us, to grow in our trust of God.  To know that He makes all things, even pain and suffering, work for good because we love Him, we trust our God and our Heavenly Father.

That is why St Josemaria (and Luther for that matter) could speak of living confidently, even though he knew physical pain, and suffered in many ways.  (his biography is fascinating!) Even though he ministered in the midst of war and famine, in spite of adversity.  Luther as well knew these things, as did those who accompanied him. They, like so many who had and have confidence in God’s love for them, endured and even looked at life optimistically while they endured.

They knew the promise of Romans 8 well, that all things would work out as a blessing, that nothing could separate you from God’s love in Christ Jesus. Not because of intellectually understanding anything, but because they knew God, knew His constant and continual presence, knew the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit, which is unlike anything in the world…..

They had confidence in God.  Knew He would fulfil every promise…from saving us from sin to dying on Cross, to rising from the dead to uniting to us in that journey.

That makes an eternity of difference and affects our lives each day.

Trust in Him, have confidence in His love and greet everything in His life, as an incredible blessing!

 

(1)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 45). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

(2)  Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 960-961). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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