Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,
We ourselves are proclaiming this good news to you. (Acts 13:32)
Do you recognize this story? Most likely, you do. In these few verses, through his account of St. Paul’s preaching, Luke has penned the heart of the gospel message. He managed to cram years of Jesus’ ministry into a few short sentences—along with a backdrop, a plot, and a climax!
Let’s see . . . Jesus came to the people he and his Father created, but we didn’t recognize him. Though he was an innocent man, we condemned him to die a criminal’s death. He was crucified and buried in a tomb sealed by a large stone. But God raised him from the dead to be the fulfillment of his promises and the answer to our prayers. That’s the “word of salvation,” or the gospel, in a nutshell (Acts 13:26).
It’s pretty simple, isn’t it? In fact, it’s easy enough that probably anyone could recount this story. And that’s exactly the point. We can all be witnesses to this joyfully simple plan of redemption. We can all respond to the call to evangelize. But sometimes it can feel pretty hard to get those words out of our mouths, even when the perfect opportunity presents itself. Why is that?
One of the most common reasons is that we doubt our effectiveness. We wonder whether we can make the gospel attractive enough or persuasive enough to convince someone to receive it. We may get so anxious that we don’t say anything at all! But the soul-tugging power of the gospel doesn’t come from us. Yes, we need to share the truth as we have come to know it, but only God himself is in charge of changing someone’s heart. It’s only by a work of his grace that someone is moved to open his or her heart to the Lord. Only the Spirit of God can drive the point home, not our eloquent words. What a huge relief!
So always remember that you don’t have to be a theologian or a priest or religious to share the gospel. All you have to be is open and available to proclaim the simple message and then to leave the heavy lifting to God.
“Lord, fill me so full of your love that I overflow with the good news of the gospel.”
Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church/ Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania