EVANGELISM - MARCH
A monthly column focusing on Evangelism and Christian thought
March 2018 - "Metanoia and Nexus"
Last month I focused on Jesus’ Great Commission, to “… go and make disciples of all nations …” What makes this mandate important in the history and future of Christianity is the degree to which believers understand it as a call to evangelize. It serves as an inspiration to try our best to help non-believers see, understand and accept the supremacy of Jesus in their lives.
However, before we proclaim the name of Jesus to others, we must be fit Christians ourselves. A Latin maxim, “nemo dat quod non habet,” means “no one can give anything that he or she does not possess.” So that is the catch … in order to carry out Jesus’ mandate, we first have to repent for our own past and present sins.
In Hebrew, repentance means to change one’s direction from sin to sanctity, from uncleanliness to holiness. In Greek, the word for repentance is metanoia, signifying internal conversion. Christian repentance consists of two steps: acknowledging that we have sinned and repenting sincerely.
When we feel we have been wronged, we want the offender to feel the depth of their transgression against us, and receive their assurance they will not do it again.
Similarly, when we are the offender, it isn’t enough to just feel sorry about a sin we have committed; we must resolve to turn away from that sin and request forgiveness. Regret without resolve is just sentimentality or deceitfulness. Repentance is not about rules and oppression; it is about stepping into one’s deepest possible relationship with Jesus.
Quite frankly, it’s a good idea to be sure we are solidly grounded in our Christian faith before we act like experts trying to convey it to others. In other words, getting our new life separate from our old one is the first order of business. This is the nexus between The Great Mandate and metanoia (internal conversion) and vice versa.
~ Rozario D.
February 2018 - Spreading Goodness
There is a Latin phrase that reads “goodness diffuses itself.” The intrinsic nature of goodness is to spread itself around. It is like a bottle of fragrance. Once opened, its aroma spreads throughout its surroundings. A beautiful rose flower makes its mark by making everyone smile with its beauty and splendor.
Each one of us who is baptized in the Spirit is in possession of the goodness of Jesus. This goodness is not given to be stored inside oneself, but to be shared with others. If that “aroma” of the Gospel is bottled up inside ourselves, it loses its value over time; it becomes worthless. However, if that goodness is let out around us, then it’s able to spread its freshness and fragrance to everyone.
This process of “letting Jesus out” is what we call “The Great Mandate to Evangelize … to go to the four corners of the earth and spread His holy name.” Preaching is a noble task that was extended to each and every one of us. Jesus commissioned his first disciples to preach his “Blessed Name.” They understood their mission. Saul of Tarsus, a persecutor of the first Christians, eventually understood that his goal was not to persecute, but to propagate Jesus’ holy Name. Consequently, he embarked on his own tireless journey into the pagan world. The fragile Peter, who denied his master three times at the Crucifixion, traveled to the Roman Empire to announce the good tidings of salvation and was martyred. The doubting Thomas navigated East, as far as the Indian subcontinent, in order to proclaim the name of Jesus to the heathens.
And even today, holy men and women cry out loud from their graves. “You Sabina, you Tony — have you not understood the mandate of your master?” Sometimes, amidst our embrace of worldly activities, we think this “Mandate to Evangelize” is a mission for our local priest or deacon. In reality, “Me, too” belongs in the front lines of this noble mandate to spread the word.
~ Rozario D.