April 18, 2003

Evangelization and Worship

"I am racing to grasp the prize if possible, since I have been grasped by Christ." —Philippians 3:12

The fear of the Lord, an awe in God's presence, seems to be not only the beginning of wisdom but also of evangelization. After the wise men prostrated themselves in adoration at the feet of Jesus, they took the gospel to the nations (Mt 2:4ff).

"The great commission" was given to disciples prostrate on the ground in worship of the risen Jesus. "At the sight of Him, those who had entertained doubts fell down in homage" (Mt 28:17). Then Jesus gave us "the great commission" to go and make disciples of all the nations (Mt 28:19).

Likewise, the first Christian missionary journey came forth from a time of worship. "While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them' " (Acts 13:2 NIV).

Mary Magdalene, the first evangelist of the risen Christ, was at Jesus' feet in worship (Jn 20:17). Also, the other women at Jesus' tomb were evangelists who worshipped at Jesus' feet (Mt 28:9ff).

These passages present evangelization as the overflow of worship. We speak out of the abundance of our hearts (Lk 6:45). Even if everyone were saved, we would be compelled to be Jesus' witnesses. We would talk to the animals or talk to the walls, but we must witness when our worship overflows. Paul said: "Preaching the gospel is not the subject of a boast; I am under compulsion and have no choice" (1 Cor 9:16). Evangelization is something like a bride-to-be talking about her fiance. Her relationship with him just overflows. She doesn't need any seminars or programs to tell her how to share with others about her beloved. She can't help but tell everyone. Likewise, "we cannot help speaking of what we have heard and seen" (Acts 4:20). Although evangelistic seminars have their place, most of our evangelistic difficulties are not "technical difficulties." Our love and worship have grown cold (see Rv 2:4). For a new evangelistic explosion, it will take nothing less or more than falling in love and falling on our knees in worship. Evangelization will then overflow.

 

Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, September 12, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, September 17, 1996