In the Gospel, a dishonest steward was caught squandering his master’s money. When it was apparent he’d be fired, he proactively reduced the debts owed to his master, ingratiating himself to people who would then feel obliged to help him. Rather than firing him, the master congratulated him.
It’s important to note that Jesus didn’t commend the steward or tell us to do likewise; he simply commented that this is the way of the world. Be prudent, look ahead, and do whatever is necessary. While not wishing his followers to be unethical, Jesus wished they’d be that resourceful in spreading the Good News in the immediate circumstances of their lives.
Paul actually did so. He fearlessly did anything necessary to preach the Gospel. He didn’t always stay within the lines or obey the rules, but took every opportunity, even risking his life, to bring others to faith.
I can’t claim that same dedication and fortitude. I’m a highly pastoral person, welcoming all who come to my parish, support group, or classes, or those whom I encounter in life. Once I discover someone’s interest in talking about faith, I’ll share mine. Yet too often I’m afraid to initiate the conversation or stand out too much. I fear being vulnerable, and then being labeled, judged, or ostracized. I remember my resentment when anyone tried to “save” me. And I’m certainly not willing to risk my life or what I hold dear. Model the Gospel by my life? Sure, I will always try to do that. Do whatever is necessary to bring others to faith? Not so much!
So, what now? Perhaps I need to look for gentle ways to open the door in secular circles. For instance, in conversations about my work, freely say that I try to be an instrument of God’s healing power. Or say that my faith has deepened considerably through the trials of my life, or that I’ve learned God is the only constant in a world where emotions, people, and life itself are so fickle. Then follow where that leads. Give the Spirit a chance to nudge another’s heart and prompt them to step a foot through the door.
After all, God truly is my rock and my salvation. Why should I be embarrassed or afraid to admit that? If someone else doesn’t feel the same, I’ve at least been authentic to who I am. And even if the conversation goes nowhere now, perhaps I planted a seed. Can I be an instrument of God’s healing power in that way too? I choose to try harder.
What about you? What can you do this week to more confidently bear witness to your faith and give God a chance to draw others closer? This world needs us.
Amy Florian is a teacher and consultant working in Chicago. For many years she has partnered with the Passionists. Visit Amy’s website: http://www.corgenius.com/.