Saturday, September 6, 2014

Fr. Longenencker: Sharing the Gospel With People Who Don’t Care

The following comes from Fr. Dwight Longenecker:

We are in a situation in the West that the Christian church has never experienced before. We have a good news to proclaim, but those who need to hear are deaf.

The atheists and anti-Catholics we can deal with. We know they hate God and hate the gospel, and we can understand and maybe even sympathize a little with how they feel. Maybe they were hurt, betrayed, disappointed or wounded by members of the Church. Maybe they were poorly catechized or brought up in some kooky sect that delivered a God who was a false god.

But at least we can engage with people like that. There’s a discussion.

What do we do, however, with the vast number of people in our culture who simply don’t care? They simply do not have any perceived need for God. They have a job. They have sex. They have food. They have entertainment available 24-7. What could they possible need God for? Why on earth would they want to go to church, get religion or have any interest in God at all?

Oh, we re-assure ourselves-”there is a God-shaped space in each one of our lives.” Really? That may be so, but it doesn’t seem to be registering with a huge number of people? “God shaped space? Whaddya talking about ? I just need another sandwich….or more sex or more booze or more stuff or more entertainment.”

So how to evangelize in a society satiated with materialism, entertainment, pleasure and power? Do we push harder on the issues that are important to us? Do we raise our voices even more about abortion, same sex marriage, contraception, co habitation and the whole long list?

I don’t think so. Sure those things are necessary and we shouldn’t give up on those campaigns, but something else is needed more: the first Christians converted a hostile Rome Empire within three hundred short years. They did so because they lived lives of amazingly radical discipleship. they LOVED one another. They LOVED their neighbors. They LOVED God. They LOVED their children, their wives, their husbands, their old people and their babies. 

The Romans married simply for procreation and civil order. If the husband was affectionate toward the wife it was a bonus. The Christians spouses loved one another for life, and this was a remarkable and un heard of supernaturally amazing innovation. The Romans practiced abortion and infanticide on a wide scale. The Christians rescued the children from the trash heap, from the sewer and from the septic tank. The Romans practiced child abuse, human trafficking and slavery. The Christians treated their slaves as members of the family, loved their children, rejected sodomy and pedophilia and rescued prostitutes and slaves. When the plague hit a city the Romans abandoned the place and headed for the hills even abandoning family members to the plague. The Christians stayed behind and tended the sick and if they caught the plague and died considered it the gift of martyrdom.

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