I consider myself an Evangelical Christian, and the local church that I attend is an Evangelical Christian church. I was led to Christ – and baptized – by an Evangelical Christian pastor.
It seems quite fitting that the occasion of my baptism should cause me to reflect about what it means to be an Evangelical Christian. I’m doing pretty well at learning the meaning of being a Christian. But what does “Evangelical” mean?
The particular way this question presented itself to me is because many of the most genuine expressions of happiness for me upon my baptism have come from friends who are not Christians. Indeed, one of the most moving notes of congratulations and genuine happiness that I received was from a friend who openly considers himself a Pagan. He has been very serious … and knowledgeable … about casting horoscopes and reading tarot cards and practicing witchcraft for as long as I have known him.
It was actually a great surprise to me when he reached out to me in genuine friendship and caring to celebrate my public profession of Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on the occasion of my baptism.
What, I wondered, is my responsibility as an Evangelical Christian toward this longtime friend who obviously cares about me and wishes me Joy in my spiritual life?
The answer – for me anyway – comes from my own journey to salvation. It was not because anyone shoved the Bible in my face or warned me about my damnation to Hell unless I accepted Jesus as my savior — although many people have tried that approach over the years. None of those efforts were what brought me to Jesus.
For me it was seeing the unabashed Joy and spiritual contentment of individuals in my life who were born-again Christians that made me curious … and one particular instance when one particular person expressed that Joyful certainty in his own life during a particular conversation … that actually led me to seek Jesus as my own savior.
That, for me, is the model of what it means to be Evangelical.
I pray that as I continue to grow in my own relationship with Jesus Christ, and as an Evangelical Christian in particular, I will be able to radiate a fierce but gentle spiritual peace that will lead those around me to be curious about that possibility in their own lives.