How do you share news? There are many ways which we tend to communicate these days. Recently I’ve used email to plan out travel dates and events, I’ve seen friends announce a baby bump in a Facebook post, I’ve seen a wedding ‘save the date’ pic on twitter. I’ve seen new hairstyles over Skype and bantered with busy and distant loved ones via IM. I received an invitation in the post on Tuesday, I wrote and mailed a ‘thinking of you’ card Saturday. I had a text from China when my friend finally found a good cup of coffee; I had a phone chat about a chosen family members’ health; I learned some parish news when sitting down to chat with a church friend over coffee. And, of course, there’s this lovely blog to read and comment upon, where people share their thoughts with our wider community.
There is always news that we want share, and so we always find ways to share it.
So with all this news flying about in all these fora, how do we share the Good News? How do we live out the Gospel message?
There are the easy answers to this, of course – a sermon or homily is preached at worship. Scripture is considered at a Bible study. Theological insights are discussed at a book club.
These are great ways to share this good news, but they are limited. The preaching is only a few minutes in a week, and is only heard by those in attendance who are able to hear it (without such distractions as happy children or dying hearing aid batteries). Even then, the words that are spoken are not always the words that are heard. Bible studies and book clubs are again a short period of time, attended by an even smaller group of people, focusing on one small section of the text or another person’s insights.
So what about the rest of the time? Are we sharing the good news in our lives as easily as we are sharing the mundane news?
Jesus’ last command was to go out and make disciples – followers – and this command was not meant just for the people standing around him at that time. It was also meant for those of us who choose to follow him today. It is our calling, our ministry, to continue making disciples. And in order to do that, we have to be able to communicate and share the good news – if we cannot offer the good news of Christ to the world, why would people want to be followers?
And so we are called to lead. By example, with humility. We are called to live out our faith in such a way that the world will recognise our mission and ministry. We are called to demonstrate to the world our choice to follow Christ, and we are called to demonstrate to the world that we want others to join us. We can pause at a restaurant to ask God’s blessing over the meal (I often experience staff pausing respectfully in their service, waiting for a prayer to be completed rather than interrupt); we can invite friends to church with us before brunch rather than coming up with excuses to avoid Sunday gatherings; we can let colleagues know that our book club is actually a Bible study that’s open to everyone; we can wear our cross jewelry as a symbol of the faith we practice and not just a shiny, pretty piece; we can be aware that the words and actions we use in public need to reflect the commitment we’ve made to God in our baptism; we can live our faith openly as we encounter the world around us.
There is a fine line, however. I think we need to be careful that we are seen as a people inviting others to journey with us, rather than forcefully demanding that they get in line behind us. I believe that our invitation should be gentle, not perceived as a requirement or a judgement statement. And we need to trust that God will move in people’s hearts when they respond to that invitation; it is not our job to push someone toward our own limited understanding of God but rather to help show them a path to the peace of Christ, a path where everyone is welcome to join in and share the good news.
So how do you share the good news in your life? How do others share it with you? How can we find new and exciting yet relevant ways of sharing the gospel?