Sharing glimpses of the Great Love
During the period between the two Christian Festivals of Ascension and Pentecost (21st-31st May) Christians around the world are taking part in the 5th Thy Kingdom Come’ a call to prayer, evangelism, and practical support for others. 14 churches are involved in ‘Thy Kingdom Come – Inverness’, leading daily on-line prayers, and taking part in a live-streamed serviceon Sunday 31st.
To be honest, I find the word ‘evangelism’ triggering. As a young Christian I felt the burden of expectation that I should be constantly sharing my faith, trying to persuade people to ‘become Christians’ and save them from hell. This simply did not come naturally to me,: my faith has always been a tentative thing with struggles and doubts, and more questions than answers.
But my understanding of ‘evangelism’ is being slowly redeemed. It means, I realise, simply sharing in ways appropriate to me, ways which acknowledge all my questions, that there is this most amazing Evangel, this good news. God exists! God is love!
Just now, local churches are expressing that love in practical ways. Christians work in the NHS and caring professions, in supermarkets, in teaching, in driving buses. There are initiatives such as the Anchor Food Support Project in Hilton, and Inverness Foodstuff.
Rebecca Solnit recently pointed out in The Guardian that ‘mutual support’ during the Coronavirus is a global phenomenon involving folk of all faiths and none. She describes the ‘new forms of generosity we are seeing – organising, networks, projects, donations, support and outreach’ which are, she says, ‘numerous beyond counting.’ This is not top-down charity, but solidarity in which both those who give and those who receive benefit.
Is God present in this outpouring of mutual care? Of course God is! Some might say the projects Solnit mentions are simply an expression of the good in human nature. I don’t think so. I believe God is present in all love whether or not we recognise it because God is love.
I wonder if we have seen ‘evangelism’ as stern duty or charity – me sharing with you out of my riches of spiritual insight?
As the word ‘evangelism’ is redeemed for me, I find it is something very different: me in my brokenness sharing a story of an amazing love which I fleetingly encounter, and discovering from you what you have seen of this Great Love in your life.
The churches participating in ‘Thy Kingdom Come – Inverness’ have their differences when it comes to belief and practice, but share the distinctive Christian insight that love has a name. Love’s name is Jesus who shows us what God is like; love reigns in our hearts when say ‘Yes!’ to Jesus.