The Holy Spirit and Evangelization
One of the primary works of the Holy Spirit is to bring all people into a meaningful encounter with the Risen Christ. Guided by His Spirit, we can truly discover Jesus Christ and develop a genuine relationship with Him if we generously respond with utter submission. Soon enough, Christ’s love becomes the center of our lives, saturating us with joy and peace. Hence, when we have had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ by the Spirit’s power, our greatest desire is that our loved ones may also enjoy a similar experience. Nevertheless, we’re often unsuccessful when attempting to evangelize to those closest to us. Consequently, we sometimes feel impatient or discouraged, confused or frustrated, saddened or hopeless.
The Holy Spirit pours within us the zeal to give witness to Christ and to evangelize to our loved ones. Moreover, it is only this same Spirit that can empower us to do so effectively. However, we must become cognizant of those sins and obstacles in our lives that impede the Spirit from guiding us freely. Once we perceive what they are, we ought to seek out the Lord’s forgiveness in Confession, collaborate with the Spirit in removing these barriers from our lives, while permitting Him to empower us to bear witness to Christ regardless of the circumstances and consequences we endure in His name.
Christ commissions His followers to evangelize and give witness. While this ought to occur instinctively as a result of our new life in Him, it is beneficial to consider how the Sacred Scriptures offer a number of passages on giving witness to God and evangelizing through our manner of living. In particular, Paul the Apostle shares with us some foundational instructions for witnessing and evangelizing:
“Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun set on your anger, and do not leave room for the devil. . . No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” (Eph 4:25-27, 29-32)
This scriptural passage identifies five suggestions for evangelizing effectively and giving witness to Christ:
1. Be veracious:
We need to consistently speak the truth by putting away falsehood. Our Savior stated that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Hence, an authentic disciple of Christ that seeks to give witness to Him does not only attempt to follow the Spirit of Truth’s guidance, but also strives to live Christ’s way, truth, and life as much as possible. Indeed, he represents the truth in speech and in action. Moreover, Christ stated that the devil is “a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44) Consequently, when we engage in falsehoods and dishonesty, we lose credibility not only before the angels and saints in heaven, but also before men and women on earth. This weakens our testimony of Christ. Hence, it is essential to speak with a sincere and truthful spirit.
2. Be patient:
It is easy to become frustrated or angry when incidents do not go our way. However, an authentic disciple ought to pray for patience. This virtue makes us peaceful as we wait for the hour God has designated to reveal Himself. Saint Teresa of Avila asserted in her writings, “Patience obtains all things.” Therefore, it is by being patient that we will see the conversion of those individuals, situations, and matters that surround us. It is also patience that will carry us through during those difficult moments of conflict, struggle, and persecution that can arise when we courageously defend Christ’s Truth.
3. Be charitable:
The verbal discourse of a true disciple communicates charity in its word selection and in its tone. Therefore, others are gradually edified even as they give the impression that they’re resisting the message. Charity is the new commandment given by Christ to guide His testifying disciples. He said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Indeed, we possess the Christian obligation to speak to each other with love.
4. Be docile to the Spirit:
We grieve the Holy Spirit when we speak and act in ways that offend Christ our Savior. However, we can avoid sin and accomplish those holy works that Jesus predicted (John 14:12) by surrendering to the Holy Spirit. If we want to bear credible witness to Christ’s life and mission in everything we say and do, then we must be unconditionally submissive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, for He is the primordial witness of the Son of God’s mission. Indeed, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God,” (Rom 8:14) precisely because they communicate, work, and live as God would desire.
5. Lastly, be humble of heart:
Humility allows us to recognize our human weaknesses and nothingness without God. It is also through this virtue that we acknowledge how God is worthy to be glorified at all times, including for those blessings pertaining to our spiritual life. Without humility, we continue to engage in bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling, along with all malice. However, humility makes it possible to be kind to others, to be compassionate and forgiving towards other people because humility reminds us that we can just as easily err and sin as those we’re speaking with.
As we endeavor to bring Christ to others through our words and testimony, let us remember to first bring others to Christ through our prayers and sacrifices. If we are unsure how to pray as we ought, let us not lose hope. The Spirit of God “comes to the aid of our weakness . . . interceding with inexpressible groanings.” (Rom 8:26) The Holy Spirit will accompany us in our prayers and sacrifices, our words and deeds, and our Christian testimony and living. He will certainly do this if we let Him.
(Note: This post was originally published on October 19, 2016.)