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What Epiphany Shows Us About Evangelism

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Our Lord to all people. He came that we might know him – that all might know him, everywhere. Epiphany calls us to a renewed understanding that mission and evangelism are not incidental add-ons to the Gospel, but rather the unfolding of Jesus’ work from the very beginning.

Epiphany reminds us that we do not “own” Jesus. He is not church property, to protect from contact with a messy world.

But even more than that, Epiphany reminds us that Jesus is not just an idea to tell people about, but a Person to encounter.

We can’t make people know Christ by dumping information on them, or by rhetorically maneuvering them into a corner, or by “winning” an argument about who Christ is, or by promising lots of fun and self-help and personal fulfillment.

We can only invite.

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John, we hear how Jesus calls Philip to be his disciple. Philip then goes to Nathanael to tell him about the Messiah: “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

Note that Philip doesn’t just stand on a hill and shout to random people “Hey, we found the Messiah!” No, he goes directly to a specific person, his friend Nathanael, with news that he believes will be of interest to him.

However, Nathanael doesn’t exactly leap up and say “Hooray!” Rather, he is skeptical, even downbeat: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

What does Philip do?

He doesn’t start arguing Scripture with Nathanael.

He doesn’t share his personal testimony of his own encounter with the Lord.

He doesn’t rebuke Nathanael for his lack of enthusiasm.

Philip says, “Come and see.”

Because it’s not about Philip, or Philip’s experiences. It’s about Jesus. And not just an idea of Jesus, but a real person, flesh and blood, that Nathanael could come to know – which is every bit as true now as it was then.

Nathanael came and saw, and followed.

Epiphany: the showing forth of Our Lord to all nations, all people, everywhere.

Come and see.

 

 

 

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The Feast of Epiphany was a great evidence of God's power. This was the start of the faith of the people in the world today. - Mallory Fleming

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About
Dr. Holly Ordway is a professor of composition and literature. She speaks and writes regularly on literature, especially fantasy literature and poetry, and literary apologetics.


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