December 06, 2012

The New Evangelization: Power and my identity

By Fr. Anthony Co *

Show Me the Money! … Cha ching!

Effective evangelization includes both the authority and the power of God.

However, while most Christians will accept this, they are not convinced that they can do it. Most people will respond, “Authority seems so clear to us but power seems unattainable.We are not God. We cannot walk on water. So how do we evangelize with power?” This is a great question. The answer is that we can bring the power of God to others by showing them what God has done in us and by facilitating what we have already received.

What God Has Done: My Stories

God has done amazing things in us. He has given us so much freedom. Freedom is what we experience when a desire begins to be fulfilled. This is what he means by bringing life “to the full.” He changes our old feelings towards old situations and allows us to approach them with a fresh new heart. He fires us up with passion and zeal to bring blessings to others. We experience more peace, joy, meaning, and the list goes on.

There is a lot that can be said about how the Lord changes us, but the evangelist has to look at his experience in order to tell these stories. Without an interior look into our own hearts, daily life seems to blend together. We meet the Lord many times throughout the day but we cannot put our finger on when that happened. Even worse, we might not even be experiencing the presence of Christ. We become locked up in our own fears and unhelpful religious assumptions that result in filtering out the presence of the Lord. At times, we do not really want to see him because it might require us to look at some scary things in our lives.

We have heard it said: “Preach always but when necessary use words.” The words this expression is talking about are, in part, our stories. We want to be ready to share how Jesus has recently made our lives better and happier. This means that we are constantly experiencing the presence of Christ. This also means we are daily sharing our stories with our close Christian friends to build them up and express our gratitude for what Jesus has done. Then, when the time is right, we can artfully and clearly retell what we’ve already practiced. We are able to share a short, detailed encounter we had with our Lord.

Power and My Identity

The most notable change that occurs in us is our new way of seeing God and ourselves. We begin to shed our orphan way of thinking and take on our true sonship. Orphans think they are losers, nobodies, and have a distant relationship to a powerless god. But a son knows he is cherished and loved, and has a wealthy Father with infinite resources. A son asks big and gets big, follows dreams, and walks in the victory of Christ.

When we come in contact with people who live out their true identities it stirs up our orphan hearts. We see the outrageous things a son does as he relies on a wealthy Father. For instance, a son prays over dead people to bring them back to life and declares blessings on all he and others do.  Orphan hearts find this uncomfortable, perplexing, and enticing. The son pushes the limits of a limitless God to see his power unleashed in the world. He sees God fulfill very specific and big requests, and is not concerned when things do not go his way. He becomes more focused on being a means to release God’s power than solely focused on own personal sanctification. Seeing people live out of their true identity is powerful. We see in them the power of God. We see what could be and we want it.

This piece is the second in a series of three columns on the New Evangelization. Read the first column and the third column to learn more.

Fr. Anthony Co was ordained in 2005 for the Diocese of Peoria, Ill. Currently, he is an assistant chaplain at the St. John Catholic Newman Center ministering to the students at the University of Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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