Evangelism, not Provocation

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The Lord came to us with “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people(2) because the news of the salvation of mankind should give us greatest joy in the Lord, love to all, and peace with all to whom He came to save…

The Incarnate Christ was ministering to all with great love and humility: He did not scorn the adulteress woman, nor did He rebuke Zacchaeus for his previous greed or the Samaritan woman for her shameful past. Even those who were from outside the sheep-fold of Israel, the Lord found something virtual to praise them for: He said to the Canaanite woman, “O woman, great is your faith!(3), and to the Centurion He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such a great faith, not even in Israel!(4). “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved(5)

Preaching the Gospel is a duty for every one who follows Christ faithfully. The believer must present His loving Lord to all, both through his preaching and his example, “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.(6). But, to preach the Word of God, who is Love, you need efficient, spiritual tools, which can move the hearts of those to whom you preach. The first of these tools is true, profound love, and then you need charming humility and smiling amiable meekness. Isaiah, the prophet says about Lord Jesus whom we preach, “He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth.(7)

St Peter says about this wise style of preaching: But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear (of God;) having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God to suffer (to be persecuted) for doing good (for preaching love and meekness) than for doing evil (for judging and provoking others haughtily.)”(8)

While St Paul was passing through Athens which was then the mainstay of the Greek philosophers, he found an altar for what they called an unknown god. The saint did not mock them, nor did he disparage their belief but, very wisely, inspired by the Holy Spirit, spoke to them in a sermon and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive in all things you are very religious (praising them;) for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands.”(9)

Thousands of our fathers, the martyrs preached Christ through their unwavering love for their Redeemer. This love gave them an amazing strength to endure the horrendous pains that were inflicted mercilessly on them. Their faith in, and love for, Christ caused thousands of the spectators to declare their faith in their God in enchantment and jubilation: “…that they may see your good works and glorify (believe in) your Father in heaven.(10)

The evangelism by example of the blessed Fr Pishoy Kamel was quiet and affectionate, with no clamor or affront. Its fruits were abundant. In his funeral many of the bawling men who bid farewell to him were Moslems, the most tearful of whom declared that father Pishoy took care of his family covertly for years. He even paid for most of his daughter’s wedding expenses from his own pocket! He was living the Lord commandment (which was lately described nobly by Mr. Ahmad Et-tayyeb, the dean of “Al Azhar” University, that it is the highest of perfection; and that his eyes tear whenever he reads it) that says, “But I tell you do not resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also… You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.(11).

The blessed mother Theresa while serving the sick, the leper, the hungry, and the emaciated children in India, she never asked anyone about his religion or race. She just hugged them, fed them and ministered to their families through her care and love. Thousands of them are now Christians. Her favorite verse was, “He who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?(12)

The human soul, “of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues(13) is very precious to the Lord. Every one is beloved to his Creator; Christ paid an enormous price so that every one would be saved. One servant was complaining to fr. Pishoy from the “unchristian” behavior of another person. The saint answered him, “Who knows whether this brother would repent and precede me to heaven!” Abba Moses the black and the thief who was crucified with Christ were “terrorists” at one time in their lives, and the great St Paul persecuted the Church for a long time, they all are now in the bosom of the merciful God interceding on our behalf that we may obtain some of the mercy which they had, that we may be accepted with them in the eternal rest. “Though I speak (preach) with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal (loud human wisdom and haughty noise)(14).

May the Lord have mercy on us through His peace and love to learn how to preach His love and His commandments in the spirit of the unfaltering faith in Him, true love to all, and joy of surrendering to His will; for He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God(15)

Emil Bishay
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1. Acts 10:28
2. Luke 2: 10
3. Matthew 15:28
4. Matthew 8:10
5. John 3: 17
6. 1 Corinthians 9:16
7. Isaiah 42:2-4
8. 1 Peter 3:15-17
9. Acts 17: 22-24
10. Matthew 5:16
11. Matthew 5:39-44
12. 1 John 4:20
13. Revelations 7:9
14. 1 Corinthians 13:1
15. Matthew 5:9

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