Here’s a quote from Archbishop Anastosios worth mulling over:
“The critical question for a mission in Christ’s way is to what extent others can discern in our presence something, a ray, of His own presence” (Mission in Christ’s Way).
The Gospel, the royal proclamation that Jesus is the world’s true king, requires embodiment. It is not enough to simply tell someone the Gospel. Nor is it enough to simply invite someone to church in the hopes they will hear or experience the gospel.
If we follow Jesus as his apprentices, then we must continue his mission in the same manner as him — we must incarnate or embody the life and love of God. We must go beyond actions and words. We must BE the Gospel.
I used to tell my kids, Jesus was the will of God even when he was doing mundane things like eating and sleeping. He didn’t just proclaim God’s will and do God’s will. He is God’s will. He IS God’s will, word, life, love and presence. We must learn this as well.
St Paul tells Timothy:
So, then, my child: you must be strong in the grace which is in King Jesus. You heard the teaching I gave in public; pass it on to faithful people who will be capable of instructing others as well. Take your share of suffering as one of King Jesus’ good soldiers. No one who serves in the army gets embroiled in civilian activities, since they want to please the officer who enlisted them. If you take part in athletic events, you don’t win the crown unless you compete according to the rules. The farmer who does the work deserves the first share of the crops. Think about what I say; the Lord will give you understanding in everything. -2Tim 2:1-7
All three images used by Paul illustrate the need for focused discipline and effort. It requires determination and work to become the kind of person that can embody God’s presence like Jesus did, even just a ray of his presence. A person doesn’t magically drift into the incarnational life. There are no shortcuts or hacks.