ARTICLE – The Relational Evangelizer

Evangelizing has a lot to do with being relational. Indeed, the Christian life is essentially about relationships: relationships with God and relationships with others. 

When we are kind, generous, humble and attentive to the needs of others, evangelization happens naturally. When we have a positive and open attitude, believing we can learn from what they have to say and from what they have experienced, we prepare the way for the Gospel. This holds for people we know well and those who are total strangers to us. 

To evangelize, Christians need to be social, learn social skills and maintain healthy relationships. We must treat others the way we would like to be treated in return, as well as not react with drama, inflexibility, or manipulation when facing difficult situations.  

When we greet others, care for them, respect them, and serve instead of being served, we are demonstrating God’s love and manifesting His presence.  Every thought and action in relation to others matters. There is no such thing as a trivial act or interaction. Evangelizing also involves cultivating positive thoughts toward others and fostering quality dialogue. 

By contrast, manipulative, self-interested, resentful, or coercive behaviour and trying to make the best of a situation at the expense of others are clearly not expressions of the Gospel.  When we are takers and not givers, it affects everyone around us, it offends and hurts God himself.

Thus, to seek to evangelize is indeed to work at becoming a relational person. It is working to create new loving relationships and mend those that are broken. It may take effort, time, or even a lifetime, to perfect ourselves in this way, but such an approach to Christian life enables us to be authentic channels of God’s love. It allows us to bring healing, hope, and truth to a world in desperate need of God’s presence and compassion.

And where can I intentionally be relational, you might ask? In your Oikos, a Greek word which refers to our family, co-workers, friends, neighbours and network of people that we regularly come into contact with.  It is our web of interpersonal relationships where God will give us opportunities to tell our faith story. The Spirit will guide us to people with whom we can cultivate new relationships and share his love.

Yes, we are ambassadors of Christ (2 Co 5:20), representing Jesus’ attitudes, words, and actions to the world. In spite of our limitations, let us be reassured: God cares not for our misery; his power is at its best when we are weak (2 Co 12:9). All we really need to do is give our will to God, surrender to his grace, and let the Holy Spirit pour out on others through our life.  Mother Teresa used to say “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person”.

Pierre-Alain Giffard

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