As any of you who’ve taken just a bit of Greek or has listened to a preacher who has tried to use it, you’ll know that we get the English word "evangelism" from the Greek word "euangelizo". This is a compound word in Greek, formed by the prefix "eu", which means good or excellent, and the root "angel(-izo, -os)", which means message or messenger. In essence, evangelism is supposed to be bringing the good message of God’s love to the people on earth.
I like the parallels between the word "euangelos" and "angelos". The latter is translated either "messenger" or "angel", depending on the context. The reason I like this because it places attention on what we’re supposed to be doing. The responsibility we have to carry our message is similar to the responsibility the angels had in the New Testament. It isn’t our message, it is God’s. We, however, have the great responsibility to carry that message and ensure its delivery.
My wife and I argue about the value in the television show "Touched By An Angel". She thinks it is good to have a decent show on T.V. as an option. I think it is a marketing ploy to try to get Christian viewers for the channel currently carrying it (Hallmark channel, by the way). I much prefer Clarence in "It’s a Wonderful Life". I think I like him more because he reminds me more of myself than the angels in "Touched". Clarence was bumbling and ill-equipped, but had a genuine heart. The angels in "Touched" could just summon some magical glow and immediately convince everyone of their status. That always seemed gimmicky.
Which ever you prefer, there is a strong message for us in our efforts to bring the good news. Our job is not necessarily to be the all-persuasive agents of baptism. Our job is, however, to show God’s love to people on earth in any way we can. As kooky as I thought "Touched" was, Monica’s message was always the same: "God loves you and wants a relationship with you."
Your first assignment in our discussion on evangelism may be a difficult one. I want you to find some way to show God’s love to someone you don’t know. The trick is, when they show appreciation for your efforts, you need to tell them you’re just trying to find an applicable way to share the love God has shown you. I’ll start:
I met Steve on Friday when I took the commercial sized gas grill the church owns to the local elementary school to cook for their end of school picnic. Steve was appreciative of the effort, but didn’t know it or I belonged to a church. I told him it was a way for us to share God’s love with others. He wasn’t turned off or argumentative. He did ask a few more questions, and I answered them. But that was it, no specific invitations, no persuasive Bible study, only showing God’s love. Next time, though, Steve may be ready for more. If he is before then, he knows where to find me. I’m at the church that looks like a castle on the corner with the traffic light. We’ve got the big grill in the back.
Your turn. Remember, I’m really looking for new efforts. You can share your older ones, though, if you can’t come up with anything.