FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON EVANGELIZATION AND MISSION
VICTORY AND JOY
April 20, 2012
Today’s reading: Acts 5:34-42
In our work of evangelization and mission, there will be opposition. Certainly from the evil one. Certainly from secular forces in the world. Certainly from anti-life, anti-family, homosexualist groups. The opposition and persecution can range from simple ostracism or ridicule to outright physical assault and even killing. To be an evangelizer is not for the faint-hearted. It is for someone who passionately loves Jesus and wants his salvation to be experienced by many others.
Two realities are helpful to us.
One, God is on our side and fights for us. We are in spiritual warfare. It is basically a war between God and Satan, between light and darkness, between the culture of life and the culture of death. We are God’s instruments. Jesus has already won the victory on the cross. We participate in that victory. Gamaliel had that great insight. “But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourself fighting against God.” (Acts 5:39). Whoever opposes God’s people are fighting against Him.
This is great comfort to us. If God is for us, who can be against us?!
Two, while the enemy cannot destroy God’s people and their faith, they are certainly able to inflict pain and suffering. Even then, we are winners, because to suffer for the cause of Christ is cause for great rejoicing. We are in a war after all. We will be wounded and even killed. The One who leads us himself was tortured and killed. But the suffering and shedding of blood are what brings victory. Given the privilege of following in the footsteps of Jesus, given our active contribution to overcoming the dominion of the enemy, we can only “(rejoice) that (we have) been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.” (Acts 5:41b).
We face a formidable enemy, but our God is more powerful and is already victorious. We face suffering and pain, but these are God’s means for our purification and effectiveness in battle, and so are causes for joy. With God there is nothing more to fear. With joy despite suffering, there is nothing more to hold us back.
We have been given the privilege of doing the work of evangelization and mission. Let us do so with a passion, giving our all, rejoicing in all circumstances. “And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.” (Acts 5:42).
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