Pitfalls for Modern Evangelizers

I happened upon a discussion of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. For those who haven’t read this comically disturbing book, do so as soon as possible. It’s an instruction manual in spiritual warfare told from the enemy’s point-of-view as the demon, Screwtape, writes letters advising his nephew in the art of luring a human soul to away from God.

Although the entire book is relevant to our current age, two items struck me as particularly important to our role as evangelizers.  When Lewis, through Screwtape, writes about factions and moderation, he’s discussing extremes in Christianity – wet, soggy blankets that smother the light of Jesus Christ that should be apparent in our words and actions.

Factions

Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them.  Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse of mutual admiration, and toward the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the Cause is its sponsor…..

             The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

When we fall in love with a Cause rather than Jesus, we feel justified in snubbing those in the Church who disagree with us, whether the topic is women priests or Latin Masses. We are, after all, working for a good. (Or so we tell ourselves.) Satan is particularly fond of splintering things, whether an individual or a group. To the outsider, an evangelizer caught up in Causes presents an image of a dysfunctional family best avoided rather than a warm, welcoming Church ready to comfort a weary world.

Moderation

If you can once get him to the point of thinking that “religion is all very well up to a point”, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all – and more amusing.

            The Screwtape Letters,   C.S. Lewis

Those evangelizers who fall into moderation are offering the world the equivalent of soggy, limp toast – not very attractive or appetizing. We can fall into this trap when we decide that the Truth is too difficult to proclaim unless it’s been watered down and made acceptable. Our desire to be “just one of the guys” trumps out desire to be “one of His guys.”  Jesus warned us that not everyone would welcome the Good News, but it is our obligation to spread the message anyway. The trick is to do it with Love.

Which is the Right Path?

Jesus didn’t call us to criticize, as with factions, or to temper the Good News with moderation. He called us to tell the world about His death and Resurrection.  The very God who created us humbled Himself to become one of His creatures, suffer, and die so that we could be with Him in Heaven forever. That should be a source of amazement and joy for every Christian.

If we walk the road to Calvary with Christ, if we meditate upon the Crucifixion and rejoice in the Resurrection, the detritus of Causes and concern about offending others should slough off like so much dead skin. Then people will not hear our prejudices, as if God were made in our image. They will hear Jesus.

Like good evangelizers, we will be the messengers, but not the message.

© Jacqueline Vick, 2017

Jacqueline Vick

Jacqueline Vick

Jacqueline Vick is a devout Catholic, wife to a wonderful guy, pet parent to a troubled mutt, and mystery writer. She has written two Rosary meditation books designed to help readers delve deeper into the Mysteries, including one for the childless. Her website is www.jacquelinevick.com.

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