“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
I love this quote. When I read it I think Lewis Carroll must have been a prophet, describing 21st century U.S. rather than 1865 England. Think about it. We’ve done this with some fine words that we all formerly agreed upon…words like “marriage,” “male,” “female”, etc. They don’t mean what they mean, they mean what we choose them to mean.
Of course, these affect us in the church, but there are other words that challenge us, too. Evangelical. What do you think of when I say that word? Angry, narrow-minded Bible-thumpers? Or maybe during the primary season you think of a voting bloc. Right now, some Republicans are very angry with Evangelicals…apparently they “always screw up” the Iowa caucus. “You can’t get a vote in Iowa without having the biggest Bible,” they say.
What about Evangelism? Maybe you think of a guy on a soap box on Bourbon Street telling partiers they are headed to hell. Or maybe guys with white, short-sleeved shirts and ties on bicycles ignoring your “No Soliciting” sign.
But the words come from the simple word evangel which means good news. Good news that Jesus saves the lost. An evangelical is someone who believes this good news. Evangelism is telling someone that good news. There’s nothing angry, narrow-minded or pushy about good news. These are happy words.
The heart of evangelism is Jesus’ first word in his Great Commission: go! It is time the church embraces the gospel again. We believe it, we share it, we go. Join us this Sunday at New Life Church (10 a.m.) as we talk about this. And join us Sunday night for BBQ and football (5 p.m.)