Looking into 2 Corinthians 2 we get this beautiful imagery of the aroma of Christ. The idea of children of God having the ability to spread this unique scent that brings such power is amazing. The message of this for me is evangelism and the calling to plan our part in God's big plan. But despite it being the great commission it definitely ain't easy. Here's a few things I've found helpful:
1. Evangelism looks different for everyone
We are all in different circumstances, situated in different areas, all with different influence and that effects how do and don't do things. For some that means there is an opportunity to be more chatty about faith and to others that's less. For each of us the call of God remains, and it's important to step into evangelistic moments with the Holy Spirit helping us. We can't remain in a Christian bubble all our lives.
2. I think we are called to kindness instead of pushing our own agenda
No one gets into heaven by argument or debate, nor do they get there in their own strength. You don't get extra points for converting people. Put the person first, recognise their needs, speak into those with care. Lead with love. People listen to people they trust and damage happens when we press for an outcome rather than trust the Holy Spirit to do the work. Serve all with love, speaking assuredly because the bridge of trust has been established.
3. Evangelism is a long game
Quite a few of us have had the blessing of being brought up in Christian homes, myself included. I realise how that has affected me, helped and challenged me. I can struggle with my faith even now, so can understand how patient we need to be with others expecting that Jesus would transform their lives straightaway. Be with others on their faith journey. Be truly a friend for all seasons. Do invite them to Alpha: grow community, because faith doesn't come overnight.
4. Passive evangelism gets recognised
This may sound like some strange wording but 'passive evangelism' simply means living distinctively. A lot of it comes down to the old saying, 'live in the world, but not of the world' and Jesus references this a lot particularly in John's gospel. I've found even in my relatively short time in college and working in a secular workplace that simply being clear with my beliefs, being a nice guy and showing that I don't need to conform to drinking, gossip or sex, that others noticed. The thing is they actually respect you more, the more grounded you are in your beliefs; it also gives way for people to recognise you to be the 'Christian guy or girl' and despite that sometimes being annoying, it can open up great opportunities. I've had the chance to express beliefs about the origin of the universe, human sexuality, and the gospels simply because I was a decent person and not what people expected a Christian to be like. Keep on pursuing consistency.
5. Be ok with not knowing everything
I've been part of many theological debates, some which I have lost, but that's just fine because it taught me something. I can never know everything. As Christians we can sometimes beat ourselves up by thinking we've said the wrong thing. People will sometimes ask that tricky question that gets in the way, cherrypick that impossibly-hard verse or simply flat out deny anything you say. Be freed from the false idea that it is through our strength that people come to faith. We are simply planting the seeds: it's the Holy Spirit that does it all. Remember Paul said, We plant and God waters, and others may reap!
Just as Sue reminded us at the close of Wednesday's morning prayer, an 'ester' is a scent particle that bounces around influencing all around it. It invites change, causes a response, very much like Esther in the Old Testament. Be loving, be authentic and be the aroma of Christ for those around you.