A Heart of an Apostle
The most important attribute of an apostle is a heart of an apostle. This is a heart full of love - for God and neighbor. A love for God makes you want to see that He is happy and what Him the happiest is to have His children return home. A love for neighbor makes you want to see them happy and the only thing that will truly make them happy is to be home. More than anything else, this is what makes for a successful evangelist.
The apostle Paul stressed the importance of love when he wrote: "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor 13:1-3 NIV)
If you don't have love, you gain nothing, not for yourself, nor for the Kingdom. Many people who evangelize do it to stoke their egos, notching up the number of people they bring to their church/prayer group/community like they were collecting apples in a basket. Numbers being an indication of their success, they will do whatever it takes to bring people in - including pay people to recruit new parishioners as a sister recently shared on the HSI forum! This results in splintering the body of Christ and little else.
When you evangelize for the right reasons however, the love in you will draw people to Christ, because they will see in you a genuine care about their lives and their souls. Anything else and people won't be impressed. Gandhi is quoted as saying: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." He saw so little love in them.
One of the main attributes of love is acceptance. Jesus accepted us, regardless of our faith or our actions. He wants us to change, but he does not make change the prequalification for loving us. That love, however, empowers us to change. We see one a very powerful illustration in the life of Zaccheus, a story you will find in Luke 19.
Zaccheus was a tax collector. A short, insecure man with huge chips on his shoulder, he was universally loathed by everybody who knew him. One day, Jesus happened to pass through the town in which he lived. Wanting to see him but unable to do so because of his dimunitive stature, he climbed up a tree. Jesus saw Zaccheus and told him to come down. Then, to his shock - and everybody else's - Jesus told Zaccheus that he wanted to come to his house. There, without Jesus having said a single word, Zaccheus came to God - the knowledge that he was loved and accepted as he was made him change.
Such acceptance will empower others to change too. Try it and see if it doesn't work.
Copyright © Aneel Aranha. All rights reserved.