A Year of Evangelism Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins January 1, 2017 Evangelism is the zealous advocacy of a cause. The advocacy requires the heartfelt proclamation of the cause, often with the intent of helping people have a conversion experience. The conversion that evangelism is meant facilitate is a conversion of the heart. If one is […]
A Year of Evangelism
Rev. Dr. Durrell Watkins
January 1, 2017
Evangelism is the zealous advocacy of a cause. The advocacy requires the heartfelt proclamation of the cause, often with the intent of helping people have a conversion experience.
The conversion that evangelism is meant facilitate is a conversion of the heart.
If one is chronically fearful, the conversion would be to rise above those fears and learn to live in hope and joy.
If one is suffering from addiction, the conversion is the dawning realization that freedom from the controlling substance or behavior is possible.
If one is burdened with needless guilt and shame, the conversion is daring to affirm with conviction, “I am God’s miracle and not God’s mistake.”
If one is perpetually lonely, the conversion might be to realize that God is Love and the Love that God is will never let us go.
Now, when conversion happens, one may wish to affiliate with the group or school of thought that brought the healing message, but the conversion isn’t joining the group; the conversion is the change of attitude, the change of heart, the change in perspective, the change in how one approaches life.
When Malinda Cramer, after suffering with chronic illness for 25 years, prayed, “Is there a power in the vast universe that can heal me?” and she experienced a profound realization of the omnipresence of God – that was a conversion moment.
Conversion could better be described as a spiritual transformation.
Conversions aren’t a one a done deal. If I get one habit under control, but still suffer from low self esteem, then I’m due for another conversion, a continued transformation.
If i realize that I am vastly lovable but still struggle with fear of scarcity, then I’m due for another conversion, a continued transformation.
We can have several conversion experiences in life…whatever needs enlightenment in our lives, whatever needs healing, whatever needs lifting up…to have a miraculous change of perception in that area and to begin to live with new freedom and joy is a conversion, a spiritual transformation.
Have you had a spiritual transformation, or a dozen? Have you had a breakthrough, a change of heard that resulted in more hope or peace or joy to your life?
Saul of Tarsus, the tradition says, had an ugly, irrational vendetta against the Jesus movement. He was healed of his hatred, He encountered a healing light and experienced the ever-living Christ and his life was changed. He no longer wanted to oppress the Christian minority; he wanted to help them grow and thrive. He joined their ranks, but his conversion of the heart came first.
Have you had something that was hurtful, weighing you down, holding you back that was somehow transformed in your consciousness? Did you get a new way of seeing it, a new way of approaching it, a new way of dealing with it and find yourself better than you were before? That’s conversion, spiritual transformation.
If you were ashamed of your sexual orientation, and now you think that who you are is a gift from God – that’s a conversion, a spiritual transformation (praise God!).
If you have dragged around pain from an event in your distant past and you finally decided that the pain of the past would not dictate your future – that’s a conversion, a spiritual transformation, and a healing miracle to boot (praise God!).
Our readings today tell us that God loves us and wants us to thrive.
The psalmist said that God made us with a divine spark within us.
The evangelist Matthew tells us about Joseph going to great lengths to accept a wife who had a baby not his, and who did everything possible to keep his wife and her child safe. That is a demonstration of love. That is God’s love being carried out in and through human lives.
Matthew goes on to show us that Jesus said, “If you show care, concern, or compassion to anyone in need, that is the best way to follow me.” Not to argue about Jesus’ metaphysical nature, but to do what Jesus would do – show concern for those in need, as Joseph is said to have done when Mary and Jesus were in need. That’s how we can be Christ in the world, bringing hope and healing to those in need.
I want 2017 to be a year of evangelism for Sunshine Cathedral. I want us to be more passionate than ever about sharing hope. I want us to do more and with more zeal and joy to reach more people with healing grace. That may mean that we attract some new people to help us spread the message, but the true evangelism is when we passionately do all that we can to tell every hurting or fearful person – YOU ARE GOD’S MIRACLE, NOT GOD’S MISTAKE! I want us to share a message that will transform hearts. Of course, we always have, but it’s time to kick it up a notch.
We’ll do that with capital campaigns, with literature, with sermons and worship services, with concerts and the internet, with social events and trips, with classes and retreats, with social commentary and acts of compassion. It will take a lot of our time, It will take effort and talent, It will take money and hope and commitment and courage.
But we are passionate about sharing this message, this affirmation of the sacred value of all people, this declaration of God’s all-inclusive and unconditional love. We want to convert hurting, fearful hearts, helping them be transformed into liberated, healed, joyful hearts. And, we, too might need a conversion or two, some continued transformation…we might have to become more open to even more diversity, more willing to take more risks for the sake of the gospel, more willing to be challenged even when we don’t feel we can meet the challenges. But if this is a year of evangelism, our passion will increase, our dedication will increase, our effectiveness will increase, and we will touch and bless more lives than ever before.
Are you willing and ready? (Yes…)
Then 2017 is the year of evangelism for Sunshine Cathedral, and this is the good news. Amen.
© Durrell Watkins 2017
Heal the fears, regrets, and pain in my heart.
And use me to help bring healing to others.
Fill me with joy and a zeal for sharing joy.