In my opinion, whether you are Catholic or Protestant, the folks over at Loyola Press have an excellent program called the Daily Three Minute Retreat [click here] through which they take a passage from the Bible, write a commentary on it and ask how the passage relates to your life. You really must go over to their site and take the retreat at least once, and if you find it helpful then sign up and they will send you an email daily reminding of the service.
Today’s retreat was on Mark 1:17 and 18 in which we find Jesus walking along the Sea Galilee and found Andrew and Simon, both employed as fishermen, casting nets into the sea and he said to them;
“Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men. And straightway they left the nets, and followed him.”
Of course he was not telling them to bring their nets and catch men as they were accustomed to catching fish, but rather he was calling to the ministry, to learn from him and then go into the world preaching the Gospel.
The good folks over at Loyola Press ask the rhetorical question, “How would you respond to the same calling as Andrew and Simon did?” Would you totally give everything you know and go off into the world preaching, healing the sick and casting our demons? Of course the latter question is entirely mine and not from the Three Minute Retreat; as it is a very difficult question. Consider this passage from the book of Mark chapter 10 verses 17 to 23;
As Jesus was walking down a road, a man ran up to him. He knelt down, and asked, “Good teacher, what can I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus replied, “Why do you call me good? Only God is good. You know the commandments. ‘Do not murder. Be faithful in marriage. Do not steal. Do not tell lies about others. Do not cheat. Respect your father and mother.’ ”
The man answered, “Teacher, I have obeyed all these commandments since I was a young man.”
Jesus looked closely at the man. He liked him and said, “There’s one thing you still need to do. Go sell everything you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven. Then come with me.”
When the man heard Jesus say this, he went away gloomy and sad because he was very rich. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “It’s hard for rich people to get into God’s kingdom!”
This passage is often used to criticize the love of money and materialism and rightfully so as we should not idolize those earthly treasures; money is not evil but the love of money is.
But this passage also shows that we have to reevaluate our priorities when we are called to the service of God through Christ. We don’t have to give everything we own to the poor, or anyone else for that matter, but we do have to place God above all else.
Today in contemporary state of the church discussions we sometimes hear a call for the need to return to evangelizing, preaching the good news, sharing it with everyone we can. Most can answer this call to proselytize the Gospel in many diverse ways.
Online dictionaries list possible synonyms for proselytize as: evangelize, convert, save, redeem, win over, preach, recruit, act as a missionary, promote, advocate, champion, advance, further, spread, proclaim, peddle, preach, endorse, urge, recommend, boost. But all these things can be done in many ways. The individual can for example blog about how Christ has influenced them, sharing their witness with others. Or just from simple acts of kindness, by trying to always have a calm demeanor, a kind word for strangers, by using precept and example as Christian witness. In this last extreme we might have to give up some things, especially those habits or lifestyles that are not emblematic of Christian life. For example using color metaphor—cursing—with every other breath might seem to some as un Christian. We can think of other examples without having to enumerate each one, can’t we?
In short there are many ways in which we can serve God without giving up everything we own and going away to some theological university, getting a degree in divinity, and settling down in some rural village or urban downtown setting and preaching the gospel to the locals. We can—in many cases—just focus on being a better Christian ourselves, and this doesn’t mean being like the Mormon kids who leave home to be a missionary between high school and college, or like the Jehovah Witness folks that go door to door handing out their literature. If you really want to know how to improve yourself as a Christian, try this link and take the retreat.