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Figuring out how to evangelize in the age of deconstruction
I've been thinking about the years leading up to my baptism, and the passion I felt for Christ and his Father in those early years as a believer.
It's been challenging to learn how to effectively evangelize. A lot of pain is wrapped up in those earlier times, to the point I eventually gave up on it. Then my worldliness pinnacled when I changed my career to wellness. I really thought that I had made it as a well-rounded individual. But all I really did was stop thinking about and talking about Jesus.
When I think back to when I got my first poster in the mail from Seed Sowers, a small Canadian Prairies ministry, I was amazed. I read from the poster John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." I was in my twenties, and desperately lost. Looking back, that was the first time I truly heard the gospel.
Lately in my practice, I have been finding myself longing for that feeling again when I first truly learned about Jesus and started reading the Bible for myself. I’ve been lamenting that fire that no longer burns within me, when I wholeheartedly believed that Jesus was truly going to protect me and prepare a place for me. And while I can't go back precisely to the feelings at that time, because I am a different person than I was then, I can get as close as I can to it, by giving away what was freely given to me when I was really afraid in the world, unable to understand my feelings.
This has been my pattern: I get better, and I forget how I used to feel, or I assume no one else is hurting. I failed as an evangelist because I wasn’t meeting people where they were at; I was asking them to run before they walked, or walk before they crawled. I suddenly realize that the joy of spreading the gospel is to relive those early times, when the fire was an explosion, bursting with hope and promise and expectations.
Jesus Christ, who is, was, and ever will be, is a true person and Spirit. He is the one who would leave the 99 for the one lost sheep, who would not crush a bruised reed, or put out a smouldering flame, who would heal anyone who asked with even just a morsel of belief in their bones. Who would suffer and die in order that we could finally be reconciled to something hopeful and positive in this world.
I used to cling to these promises with every last bit in me. But I was prideful and insecure, and eventually, the world captivated me away from Christ. And as I bantered with the cool girls and my Instagram page looked truly marketable, and I no longer identified as some isolated eccentric, I didn’t even notice Jesus slip right out of my mind and my heart.
I’m ready to come back. I had a terrible Lenten season, but in the final stretch, Jesus once again came and rescued me from my indulgences, my fears, my listlessness. He gave me hope again, and purpose. I have learned so much, and my mistakes are not what defines me as a minister of the gospel today. I’ve healed a lot of my trauma that caused the rigid black and white thinking that had previously obscured my message of the cross.
I leveled my pride and I no longer view my pain as something I cured and can teach others how to navigate now. My pain is still a part of me, and it connects me to Jesus in a meaningful way. I have realized that pain is not a liability to be worked off and tucked neatly away in the recess of my mind: it’s to be utilized again and again to help me minister to others moving forward. I can remember those moments of when I first heard of Jesus’ saving grace, and help spread those words that are truly and utterly life-giving.