“Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness. Take a Christian or a handful of Christians who, in the midst of their own community…they radiate in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. Through this wordless witness these Christians stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live: Why are they like this? Why do they live in this way? What or who is it that inspires them?” – Pope Paul VI in EVANGELII NUNTIANDI
I became a Christian at age 17. I didn’t go to church growing up and really knew very little about Jesus. That is, until I met a girl whom I liked quite a bit. When I finally mustered the courage to call and ask her on a date, she told me that she would like to go out with me but that she liked to end her dates in prayer.
That’s really not how I wanted the date to end. But she was pretty, so I agreed.
A week later, I called her and asked her on a second date. She then proceeded to tell me that if I wanted to continue to date her I had to go to church with her. Well…okay.
I spent a year following her to church, mostly just to please her. But at the end of 1984, I went on a retreat with her youth group. There were about 700 other youth at this retreat and many of them radiated something that I wanted, something I didn’t have: Joy.
I wanted to be like that. So I decided to follow Jesus on that weekend. I had to follow that man if that’s what he does for people.
Even though my girlfriend’s initial tactics were a bit scheming, she rarely talked to me about Jesus. She never told me what I must do to be ‘saved’. She didn’t give me a defense of Christianity or try to teach me what it’s all about.
What she did was put me in a company of witnesses.
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” – EVANGELII NUNTIANDI
That’s really what being church is all about – a company of witnesses who “stir up irresistible questions in the hearts of those who see how they live.” Is your life stirring up irresistible questions? Is mine?
Well, I ended up marrying that shrewd witness and we’ve been happily in ministry together since. God is good.
Go stir it up!