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April 6, 2011

Showing My Faith in Christ

by Rev. A. J. Iovine

One of the great challenges of the Christian faith is showing that faith in our daily lives. The reality of our sinful beings is that we're always fearful of expressing our faith in Jesus Christ to those we know and meet each day. I understand the fear of using the words "I believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world," since this broken down world rejects God and mocks Him and those who are faithful. We don't want to be ridiculed by others, so our fears overtake us and we keep our lips silent when the time comes for us to proclaim our faith.

But our faith is more powerful than our fear and so much more powerful than the mockers out there.

We have so many opportunities throughout our day to say just the tiniest thing about God and what our Lord Jesus means to us. Our challenge is to overcome our fear and shyness to express it.

As I have reflected on my personal outreach to the greater community, I realized that my individual outreach has been lacking. My one-on-one witness has been one of the weak points of my ministry. I do like to visit the sick and struggling and proclaim Christ to them, but when I am in a supermarket, for example, when those opportunities arise to speak of Jesus, I rarely open my lips to let the words out. 

Last week, I committed to do better when it came to these small evangelism opportunities. Yet, in these past few days, when I found myself in these positions to tell of the Good News, I haven't let the praise of God spring forth from my lips.

As I was driving up to the toll booths on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge this morning, I promised myself that I will get past this shyness at least once today to fulfill my commitment to this greater evangelism focus. I figured what is the worst that can happen? Someone will call me an idiot? Heck, I've been called a lot worse before.

After parking my car, I exited the garage and walked across the street towards the treatment center, I saw a homeless man leaning up against a building smoking a cigarette. Walking near him, he wished me a 'good morning.' I turned to him and said, "And a good morning to you, as well. God be with you today."

After taking a couple of steps beyond where this man was leaning, he said, "Thank you."

Inside the center, after I signed in and was hooked up to my thrice-a-week chemo bag (which was put in my right arm today and where the PICC line will be installed on Friday), the nurse reminded me that if I needed anything, I should just call out and someone would come to help. I thanked her and said something to the effect, "Our Lord places good people in our lives to keep us reminded just how much He loves us through Jesus. To me, you're that person today."

She turned with a little surprised smile on her face and said, "Thank you."

As I sat in the reclining chair (very comfortable, I must admit) receiving my treatment, with the television tuned to MSNBC (a news station I do not watch), I decided to do something useful and began yank my laptop out of my backpack. To me, there is nothing worse in the early morning hours than to watch MSNBC's morning show with Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski and that round table of self-important journalists/commentators who spin the news to make Republicans look bad. I know, Joe is a Republican and every now and then they let Pat Buchanan sit in on the round table, but please — everyone else carries the water for the Democrat party. Joe does fight back, a bit, but the entire presentation is a liberal spin on the news. I don't care that they have good ratings among rich people. The show gets on my nerves. Pulling my laptop from my bag, a young woman came in and got hooked up in the chair beside me. Today is her first chemotherapy appointment and by the look on her face, she was very nervous. When the nurse left her, I turned to her, introduced myself, and said, "You seem nervous. Would you like me to say a prayer for you?"

Telling me that she was Jewish, I said that didn't preclude me from offering a prayer on her behalf. She smiled and reached her left hand over to me. I grasped her hand and prayed. Ending the prayer in the name of the Triune God, I thought I would hear something about her non-belief in Christ the Messiah, but I didn't.

Instead, I received was a smile and a "thank you."

Afterwards, her mother came by and sat next to her. The three of us ended up talking for about an hour over a number of things, including our individual cancer fights. Eventually, the woman and her mother started talking about private issues and I flipped open my laptop and began to type. 

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