Looking at the bigger picture
When I was little, I went with my family to see the movie Gone With the Wind. There was a scene in it where a man was getting his leg amputated. I was so traumatized by this that if anyone asked me what the movie was about, all I could think of was that scene. Years later, I read the book and watched the movie again and realized that there was much more to it than that one scene.
Many people have this same experience with the word “evangelism.” Instead of seeing the larger theme of proclaiming the good news, many have come to see evangelism as a one sided conversation where someone is saying, “I have it all figured out and if you don’t agree with me, then you are going to suffer eternal damnation.” I have had people come to my door for the purpose of evangelism. Even when I tell them that I am a pastor, they still try to persuade me to see things their way, completely ignoring the depth and experience of my spiritual journey. It would be a much better conversation if we found some things we could agree on and then shared with each other the differences in our beliefs without the arrogance of feeling superior. Different denominations generally have some things that we agree on and some areas where we diverge. We will have a lot more harmony in the world when we realize that God created us in our beautiful, glorious diversity and just because we don’t see things the same way doesn’t mean that we can’t love each other. If evangelism is sharing the good news, does it always come across that way?
So, what is the good news anyway? The good news is God came to earth in human form, in the person of Jesus, to usher in a whole new era, known as the kingdom of God. In this reign of God, we can all be healed of whatever brokenness we have. God’s healing and transforming grace is available to each one of us, right now in our lives. Whatever abuse we have suffered, whatever unfairness we have had, whatever has caused us pain that has damaged the true person that God created us to be, can all be healed. Our hearts can be made whole when we accept this grace that is made known in love.
When we go out in the world with hearts full of love, it spills over and invites others into this place of accepting God’s grace. As a result it fills us with even more grace. Living our lives in a state of grace is a glimpse into the eternal future with God that will be even greater as we become transformed into pure holiness and unity with God.
Instead of focusing on what we disagree about, loving each other requires us to come together and share our experiences together. Jesus tells us to love God and love one another. Is your life a witness to that love, or are there some things, like the way that awful scene in the movie that took away from the larger picture, that take away from the image of God reflected in you?