This week the third part of my six-part description of our Baptismal Covenant Commitments.
We promise to live in the wake of Christ's baptism, pun intended! The water that he was plunged into runs off on us. We are baptized into Christ and that's possible because God in the person of Christ was baptized into the entire process of conversion necessary for humanity to finally and fully live.
What does that look like? It looks like the path outlined for us in the Baptismal Covenant: a series of nine affirmations in which we affirm our belief in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in six specific commitments, affirm our desire to live in a certain way.
Our third commitment asks us if we will "proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ?" We promise to do so "with God's help." We need to do some ground-clearing here because "evangelism" is so easily misunderstood. It is not standing on a street corner or under an awning with a magazine or tract in hand. It is not going door to door seeking to engage total strangers in a religious debate. It is certainly not predicated on a belief that unless people "hear about Jesus" and "believe certain facts about how he came to save me from my sins," that these people are "lost to God." These stereotypes can so easily get in the way of the simplicity and beauty of what it means to "proclaim by word and example."
There are many people in our society who are looking for purpose, connection and truth, many of them come from nominally Christian background, many of them come from backgrounds that have very little connection to a living faith or any kind at all. If we will, in the course of our vocational, recreational, and ordinary lives live in a way that respects and honours them as people with dignity and worth, we may find that they begin to ask us questions about our lives. It may be that they are on a spiritual quest. If they are you may have the opportunity to share how it is you find spiritual connection to God through your faith. You may find opportunity to invite them to church or to a small gathering of Christians where you know they'll feel welcome. You need not worry about "having to convince them of Christ," simply live authentically and allow the chips to fall where they may. St. Francis famously said, "proclaim the gospel always, and if necessary, use words!" As someone called to use words in my vocation, this is a good reminder that it's actions of love, care, and compassion that matter most! All of us are capable of helping the person next to us; when we do, we're "proclaiming Christ!"