I think we often forget that a large amount of Jesus’ sermons had to do with being productive; the kind of speech any business would love to give their employees. Jesus was very direct in saying that if we aren’t productive then we’re of little to no use? There were a few times when Jesus spoke about chopping down a tree that wasn’t producing fruit and using it for firewood; I don’t know about you but I find this very scary.
The tree parable that Jesus used is awesome because there are so many facets to it like where do we get the nutrients and water from so we can bear good and plentiful fruit? The roots of a growing tree are always in search of these resources and the more these roots reach out the easier it is for the tree to grow tall and the more grounded/stable it is when storms come along. In our lives the roots are reaching out for strength in Spirit to keep us motivated in our faith. We can do this in a variety of ways like attending church/Mass weekly, reading our Bibles daily, saying prayers daily, joining a Bible study, spending time with other Christians to lift one another up, etc.
These things help us create a fertile environment to produce the fruit Jesus asked of us like charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. The big question is do people see these fruits in us?
When Jesus left he told his disciples that he was going to prepare a place for them and that until then their mission was to evangelize the earth through love of God and love of fellow man. The word evangelize is an action word and means to preach the Bible and convert to Christianity. So this is a very important area to be productive in considering it was the last thing Jesus told his disciples to do. So how do we do it and more importantly how can we be efficient and effective at it?
Walking up to someone and telling her how Jesus died on the cross to take away her sins sounds like a crazy story if you think about it. Almost everything we could share about the Old Testament except for the Ten Commandments, quite frankly sounds like fiction to non-believers. They’re usually shocked that we believe in things like Jonah and the whale, parting the Red Sea, and trumpets bringing down a fortress. With these things in mind how in the world can we be productive at evangelizing? People would think were nuts if we start sharing these things with them.
This is one of the major reasons why St. Francis of Assisi said: “Preach Jesus and only when necessary use words.” He knew the best way for people to know Jesus is for them to see him through us. Even though we wake up each morning and get caught up into the rat race, we must not lose sight of our primary mission and that is for us to show people what Christianity is about; let them see our fruits.
For us to demonstrate Christianity we must be different, we must stand out from the crowd. Not only do we need people to know we’re different we also need to demonstrate that our kind of different is worth pursuing. People must want what we’ve got and in most cases people are missing peace and joy in their lives. They must see these fruits from us. The fact is it’s often easier to evangelize to someone during those times when their world is crumbling down around them. It’s human nature that most people don’t look for change if they’re comfortable with where they are. When times get tough they’ll see the peace and joy in us that they want to experience again. So when people are going through difficult times it’s the best time to show them how great being a Christian is. We can tell them that we know as Christians that we can’t escape terrible times but we can go through those times with the peace of knowing we’ll be okay no matter what the outcome. It’s hard to have peace without also having joy; they’re connected. So when we have a sense of peace all the time it also gives us the added benefit of joy.
As I mentioned earlier the word evangelize is a word of action. Jesus told the disciples to go out and evangelize not hang out in the tent. So our job is to proactively look for ways to introduce others to Faith. One way to do this is when someone is out sick for an extended period of time or lost a loved one, people will be there and support them for a short period of time then they go on with their lives. This is a perfect opportunity for us to be different and continue to see what we can do for these people and at the very least call to check in; maybe send them a card several months after the event.
One of my employees lost a 16 year-old son (Brandon) to cancer and I always checked in with him on the anniversary of his son’s death. I’m not saying everyone would like this but I can’t tell you how much it meant to Scott that someone remembered his son. We must proactively look for opportunities to be different and demonstrate love to those around us. More than likely they’ll know you’re a Catholic which sends a great message about Christianity and the Catholic Church. You’re preaching Jesus without the words. Demonstrating love is the productivity God is looking for. Love for those around us is God’s second Commandment after love for him and we show love for him by demonstrating love for others (notice the beautiful circle). We show love through living our lives through charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, self-control, etc.
In winding down, if we aren’t active in our faith, God doesn’t need us. How could he say: “Well done my good and faithful servant” when we hadn’t done anything to deserve it? The best thing we can do to evangelize is through our actions not our words. It’s the little things that count so you don’t have to think you need to get involved in a mission to make a difference, your opportunities to evangelize start when you get up in the morning and end when you go to sleep at night.
Once again, it’s easy to get caught up into our everyday lives and forget our primary mission and that is to please our Father. If we don’t prioritize and make sure we are demonstrating God’s love wherever we go, what good are we? Before I forget the most important place for people to see love demonstrated is at home. Your spouse deserves it and your children need to see it modeled not just hear about these things at church. I guess what it boils down to is would you rather have people on earth telling you well done or your Father in heaven because it’s practically impossible to do both.