Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

June 7, 2013

A positive minute: E is for Evangelization


Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Today’s column will be of particular interest to those who are concerned about the church and the outreach needed to continue the message of Jesus Christ.

Today’s topic is meant for every believer of every denomination or tradition because we all have something in common: tell others the good news.

The early church, in its formative years, was blessed to have, what I call, first generation Christians. Those who walked and talked with Jesus and later wrote about their experiences with our Lord.

The church grew rapidly with people who had a level of commitment to the message that they were willing to lose their lives for the cause of Christ. We know of those stories where the early Christian would be in the arena facing gladiators or lions and if you have ever wondered about the sign of the cross, here’s something to remember.

The Catholic Church did not invent the sign of the cross though they carry on the practice of the early Christians as do the Lutherans and some others. It was the early day Christians who decided to stand up to the Emperor and show him that in spite of being tortured and martyred, their allegiance was to the King of Kings and by doing the sign of the cross they wanted everyone in the arena to remember that Jesus was crucified on the cross.

As we now move forward some 2,000 years, we continue to see the need to be bold about our mission for Jesus Christ. The Christian has a great message of hope and peace to share with the world even with the lack of tolerance by other religions toward Christianity.

Blessed John Paul II said: “The Risen Jesus accompanies us on our way and enables us to recognize him, as the disciples of Emmaus did, “in the breaking of the bread” (Lk 24:35). May he find us watchful, ready to recognize his face and run to our brothers and sisters with the good news: “We have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:25).

In this world we journey as pilgrims and strangers and sometimes we struggle to recognize Christ along our journey and the the reason to come together for worship and partake of Holy Communion. I refer to it as “soul food.”

How many meals do you miss each week? How many each day? Well, if you miss too many meals you will weaken. Our bodies require the nourishment and our spiritual life is no different. To fail in attending worship and eating the Lord’s Supper there is spiritual weakness, and is it any wonder why so many lives are messed up? Some just haven’t surrendered to what is good and right for the spiritual part of our lives.

Have you felt empty lately?  Are you a practicing Christian or, just a Christian in name? There really is a difference. When we follow the teachings of our Lord and then express those teachings to others we are bringing life.

So, it doesn’t matter what brand of Christianity you profess, there is a need to share the good news with others. Be brave and strong. Remember those early Christians who were bold as they stood before the government leaders and gave a simple sign of the cross. It sent a message, made the officials mad, but the message of Christ was given and we enjoy our religious freedom.

On life’s journey do you recognize Jesus as he walks with you? Be ready to recognize Him and then share that good news with others.

The Most Rev. Michael Layne is a Bishop in the Lutheran Orthodox Church and can be reached at 812-614-2160 or doclayn@yahoo.com.