Last week during his sermon, the reverend at my church asked the congregation to go forth and “spread the Good News,” to evangelize the greatness of the Lord.
Now you might think this is a regular request, but it is not. In my six years of attending the church, it was the first such time he asked this of us. In fact, he cautioned us not to pass along the good word to make ourselves feel better or to feel superior to others. However, I’ve been burned so many times by people evangelizing for those very reasons that it completely sours me on the topic. From people getting in my face to claim I’m going to hell for not being the same sect of Christianity as them, to people condescendingly saying “I’m praying for you” in a “If you don’t accept my request to join my church, you suck” kind of way, laymen posing as evangelists have less respect from me than the evangelists hiding behind the facade of dubious religious organizations who have robbed from Fort Millians for decades.
But the message was not lost on me.
I simply cannot complete it the way the reverend would like. Philosophically I have issues with telling other people what they should believe, whether they are friends, family or complete strangers. My outlook on religion isn’t reliant on strength in numbers. I believe what I do and it is personal to me. I don’t know if my particular love of the Lord is shared by anyone, nor do I care. Plus, what if a person believes in a different deity or supreme being? What gives me the right to tell him the goodness I believe and expect him to change his view?
I don’t approach Democrats and sermonize the greatness of my politics to tell them they should become Republicans. I don’t approach Panthers fans with a handful of Giants Super Bowl rings and say, “Join me and you can share these four great victories with me and forget about your horrible defeat.” I’m not even a fan of supposedly helping the impoverished on mission trips that end up being akin to a timeshare hard-sell: “We’ll build you a schoolhouse, but you’ll have to use it to learn Christianity.” The only thing missing is a free dinner to the Outback.
Instead of the “Good News of the Lord,” I’d rather just ask everyone to focus on love and respect rather than hate. While that might sound like a beauty pageant contestant asking for world peace, just think what would happen if we loved one another. We wouldn’t start wars because of differences in politics, religion or ethnicity. We wouldn’t judge people based on sexuality. We wouldn’t act better than our fellow man because we were richer, prettier, more devoted or smarter. In a world like that, there would only be Good News.
You can reach Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org to buy his timeshare.