Sunday, March 21, 2010

Evangelism and Me

One of my early childhood memories involves my kindergarten self reasoning with my four year-old neighbour Andy about his eternal destination based on his lack of church attendance and evident lack of faith in Jesus. "You don't want to go to hell, do you?" I asked him, before I was corrected by my mother for my misapplied religious zeal. As I got older, I learned that some topics like salvation and damnation were better avoided, except perhaps among people who were like-minded and wanted a friendly debate about predestination. Even these debates had the potential to degenerate into heated exchanges that became highly personal. Throughout my childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, as I attended Christian grade-school, high school, and university, I was surrounded by other Christians and with people who knew the gospel message, even if they didn't personally believe in it. I had no non-Christian friends, and few non-Christian social contacts. While I do remember times I shared about my faith, or presented the gospel, these instances were infrequent. I took comfort in the quote "Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words." My lifestyle and attitudes should speak of my Christian commitment, and draw others towards Christ. Although, sometimes I had my doubts that my life was extraordinary enough to merit scrutiny or to compel someone to say "I want what she has." Also my life seemed to more shaped by my religious list of behaviours and practices to avoid and some positive actions that must be performed, such as Bible reading, prayer, and occasional good works, than by a positive living out of my faith, drawing on a deep connection with Christ to truly love and serve others. Selfishness, pride, greed, hatred, jealousy, and anger were and remain quite obviously a part of my daily life, and however much I tried to demonstrate the fruits of the spirit I failed and I continue to fail to live an exemplary selfless life.

The truth is my Christian witness is not primarily through the quality of my life, but through my testimony of God's undeserved grace in my life. God has brought me through some extremely difficult times, and redeemed my life from the pit of depression and hopelessness. Some one who looks at my life will not be overwhelmed by my exemplary living, although they may note some counter-cultural practices or some things I avoid. But they will see evidence of God's grace if they examine closely and they might hear about his faithfulness. Without God's grace and Christ's sacrifice for me, I would still be back in that pit, and might not even be alive today.

Do I need to return to something like my kindergarten zeal about sharing the gospel and testifying of God's grace? While threatening others with hell-fire is probably not the right approach, I think I should take more of an active interest in evangelism, and consider how that would be expressed in my life, as guided by the Holy Spirit. And I should draw from the depths of Christ's love for me, to find the love and grace to give to others, until it becomes like a neverending stream of life-giving water flowing out of me.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Twenty-nine and half

Well, I am over half way between 29 and 30, and I have less than six months to accomplish my list of 30 things I wanted to get done. This winter I haven't gone downhill skiing, and I still haven't eaten a lobster, or become a full-fledged optimist. I am unlikely to travel to a foreign country, or take a pottery class, as I am considering taking a summer semester, leaving me with little time for a vacation or leisure activities. I haven't written in a journal even once in the past half year, I haven't befriended a friendless person, and I have gained weight instead of losing it, so my belly has become more rotund rather than less. This blog has never been more neglected, although I have posted two posts this year that I have since deleted; I am unlikely to reach my 100th blog post goal. While the summer could see me taking up roller-blading, starting a running program I have been planning on getting to for years, doing a couple of repetitions of the escarpment stairs, learning to barbeque, going on a road trip, snapping pictures with a new digital camera, and playing my first tennis game, I will definitely have to exert myself to accomplish even some of those visions. I can see myself learning how to bake a lemon meringue pie and to cook a whole chicken, but completing ten consecutive push-ups seems an illusive goal. My most troubling failure is in my spiritual life; I haven't developed a daily prayer life, my relationship with Christ remains distant, and the spiritual disciplines and fruits of the Spirit haven't been much developed.

The goals I have made progress on include starting the Practical Nursing program this January, which is going well so far, and becoming involved at the Meetinghouse, where I have been attending a small group and volunteering my time for various causes. For awhile it seemed that I had found a new place to live with new room-mates, and I even moved all my furniture to the new place. Unfortunately my would-be room-mates changed their minds and they now have a couple of new room-mates living with them. Other progress includes the successful accomplishment of a simple sewing job, and the more tidy habits I have been keeping of late. I have joined Christian Cafe and I have corresponded with a few people, and even meet some of them in person, but I haven't started a serious relationship. I have intentionally developed more of a social life, and have gone to a couple of weddings of friends, and a couple of showers most notably.

At this point, my progress towards these goals seems unimpressive and lack-lustre. However there is a good chance with a redoubled and renewed effort, I can manage to accomplish at least half of them before August 29. Most importantly, I think I can focus my energy on the goals that matter the most, growing and developing spiritually. Other priorities include a more active life-style, and broadening my horizons by new experiences and developing new skills. May the next six months be full of learning and growing experiences!