Saturday, December 18, 2021

Sharing the Faith Is Easier Than You Think

The Church needs volunteers to go door-to-door and preach the faith to strangers. Please raise your hand if you want to sign-up for this.

Do I see any hands? Anybody? Hmm, that’s what I thought. Sharing our faith with other people is not very comfortable, is it? I’m not surprised there were no volunteers. (And in case you were wondering, I can see you through this computer screen.)
To be honest, I didn’t raise my hand either. Oh sure, I’m all gung-ho about my faith while typing away at my computer in an empty room. But if I had to choose between talking about religion to strangers or getting a root canal without Novocain, I would say to the dentist, “OK, doc, let’s get this over with.”

I was reminded of this recently when the deacon in our parish, Deacon Dave Reynolds, was giving a homily at Mass. He mentioned that when he was working out at a gym a while ago, a personal trainer in the facility started talking with him, and the personal trainer matter-of-factly said, “My life has gotten so much better since I put my faith in Jesus.”

Now, of course, since Deacon Dave is an ordained clergyman, they ended up having a nice discussion about faith. But even if he wasn’t a deacon and did not want to talk about religion, the comment by the personal trainer was so simple and non-threatening, no one would have been offended or uncomfortable. (Well, except for those folks in our society these days who enjoy getting offended by everything.)
Most of us assume that “preaching the faith to strangers” means hitting them over the head with a Bible and threatening them with eternal damnation if they don’t believe exactly what we believe. 

However, instead of criticizing people for being sinners and spouting Church doctrines at them, it’s much more effective—and a whole lot less stressful—if we simply mention what faith means to us. It’s called giving a personal witness, and that personal trainer’s comment, despite being so short and simple, was actually very powerful.
Someone could spend hours presenting in detail St. Thomas Aquinas’ five philosophical proofs for the existence of God. However, whoever was listening to this lecture quite likely would have either spaced out or dozed off long before the end. In other words, despite the power of Aquinas’ logic (and it is powerful), a high-brow presentation would be ineffective in convincing most non-believers to trust in God.

On the other hand, a simple witness can be surprisingly effective. Short and sweet comments can really get another person to think, comments such as: “I don’t know what I’d do without my faith in God,” or, “The Lord always gets my through the tough times,” or, in the words of that physical trainer, “My life has gotten so much better since I put my faith in Jesus.”
Now, if you do believe in God and if you’ve been going to church for a long time, but none of those short statements are true for you, then it might be time to re-evaluate your faith life. In my view, people who trust in God and enter into a loving relationship with Him can’t help but be better off. If nothing else, focusing your attention on the Lord means you’re not focusing your attention on yourself, which psychologists tell us is often a main source of unhappiness. If you’re not sure, just check out some of the frantic show-offs on Facebook and Instagram. Do you really think desperately seeking affirmation from others is emotionally healthy?

Anyway, the volunteers who will be going door-to-door and preaching the faith to strangers will be meeting at the parish hall at 7 p.m. on Tuesday. I’ll see you there, right? No, I won’t see you there -- because I’m not going. That is definitely not my cup of tea. But casually mentioning to people that my life has gotten so much better since I put my faith in Jesus is something I can do, and it’s not difficult. 

Please raise your hand if you want to join me in this low-key method of giving a personal witness. Well, that’s much better! 

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