Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Andrew Kukla is curating reflections on being evangelical in the church. Have we connected our congregations to resurrection life? Have we taught them how to talk about it? How to live it? How to connect others to that life-giving, life-abundant power? We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter!
by Chris Montovino
Since when did sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ become a combination of four letter words for God’s people? Sadly, I think these words stemming from the Greek have gotten a bad rap. Too often they are either associated with angry street corner evangelists pronouncing fire and brimstone upon the weary “heathen” or entangled in someone’s political ideology. When Jesus came to share his Good News, I can hardly imagine that he had either of those ideas in mind. So what did Jesus mean and how can we as a Church reclaim these words as both Good News for us and worthy of our sharing with the world at large?
In Luke 10:27, Jesus summed up the Law and the Prophets, saying “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”
First, love God. We can do that without lots of explanation. Ok, check!
Second, love our neighbor as ourself. Hmm. That one especially is tricky today in an age of disconnection. People come and people go. Our neighborhoods these days are often just a collection of disjointed homes, where we eat, sleep, and wake up and do the same 365 days a year with little to no real life sharing with those who live next door. In all honesty, I can successfully avoid eye contact with said neighbors by raising my garage door, backing my car out of the garage, heading off to work in a location beyond my neighborhood, returning home at the end of the day, pulling into my garage, lowering the garage door, and retreating to my private fenced in backyard oasis.
But how can we love our neighbor if we don’t share life with them? How can we share life with them if we don’t cross paths with them? How can we cross paths with them if we don’t even know who they are?
Let me propose a simple suggestion: become an evangelist!
We live in a cul-de-sac and have a big porch that spans the front. From our porch swing, where we love to sit on summer days, we are able to make intentional contact with our neighbors as they come and go. Hey Steve! How’s Austin? Hey Greg! Catch anything? Hey Lisa! How’s the job search? Hey Dale! How’s your mom?
Over the past eleven years, we have shared a lot of life with our neighbors. There are annual cul-de-sac BBQs, Easter egg hunts, Halloween gatherings, and Christmas parties. There have been times when we have been there for them. And there were many times when they were there for us like extended family.
We have said goodbye to some and welcomed others. We’ve laughed with them. We’ve cried with them. We’ve ticked some off. We’ve said sorry many times. We’ve also prayed with some of them and on occasion got to share our faith with them.
We had no agenda in our neighborhood but love our neighbors in the way Jesus commanded us to love them and be the Good News that Jesus wanted us to share.
How? Through the lives we’ve shared with these folks, our neighbors. And when we share life with people that we love, we naturally share what is most important to us which is our faith. It may not be presented as four spiritual law. It may not result in a “decision” for Jesus that we can count. It may not even make them new church folk. But in the process of really loving our neighbors the Gospel gets lived out before our very eyes.
Now that’s Good News!
Rev. Chris Montovino has served as head of staff at Cascades Presbyterian Church in Vancouver since 2005. He has been married to Karen for 20 years and has four active children high school through elementary school. His passions include outback hiking, fly fishing, and volunteering with the Camas High School Young Life Program. He hopes to be finished this year with his Doctor of Ministry degree in The Missional Church through Fuller Theological Seminary.