Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Kenneth C. Kroohs
Isaiah 51:1-6; Psalm 138; Romans 11:33-36; Matthew 16:13- 20
August 22, 1999
A good friend of mine and I have a running argument about whether there is such a thing as evangelism anywhere, anytime within the United States, or is it always "renewal." Since he is the evangelism officer for the Diocese he tends to argue that there is such a thing as evangelism. I say there isn't. Of course the primary reason we have this debate is that we both enjoy a good argument!
Even so, the issue is important. "Evangelism" by definition is telling the story to a person for the first time. When the missionaries first talked to native peoples, that was evangelism. My point is that there are extremely few adults in the United States who cannot recite the facts about Christianity. They may or may not believe those facts, but they know them. They can tell you
So the question facing today's Americans is exactly the same question Jesus asked the disciples. We are challenged to hear, face and answer His question: "Who do you say that I am?"
The question may be more difficult than it appears. There are many answers which are correct, but inadequate. Many people, including Moslems and some Jews say that Jesus was a great spiritual leader, a teacher. And that certainly is correct. No question that Jesus taught. If we ignore that part of Jesus' identity we ignore most of the gospels!
The term "teacher" means something very different from a "proclaimer". We hear many "proclaimers" in our society. People who stand up and, usually in a loud voice, tell you what to believe. Tell you what is right. Notice that Jesus normally explained things. Jesus used examples, what we call parables, Jesus used logical arguments -- especially with the Pharisees. And Jesus modeled the answers. Jesus lived the lessons.
We need to remember Jesus as a great spiritual teacher. In fact, I submit to you that one of the pro ...
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