Financially, my family is in a pickle. From things that I’ve read, this is a common problem in re-marriages and step-families, when substantial child support and alimony payments are part of the financial equation. I’ve been trying to figure out a way to generate more income on my end of things, as my husband is already doing all he can.
To that end, yesterday I had an interview with a company that does academic enrichment tutoring and instruction. They are looking for people to be English tutors. The company has a solid reputation in the area, and I really liked the director. I hope they decide to hire me.
Because I list my graduate degree from Fuller Seminary on my resume, it often prompts questions in secular interviews. Sometimes the questions have to do with something they heard on the radio, or they want something basic explained. Like the time someone asked me what the difference was between Catholics and Christians. I really don’t think they believed me when I tried to explain that Catholics ARE Christians.
Yesterday, my interviewer asked me where I fell on the Christian spectrum. He is not a believer and doesn’t know Christian jargon, so I tried to explain it simply. I said that I am an evangelical who believes that Jesus has asked us to bless not just our little believer’s corner, but the larger community. He asked if I was a fundamentalist. I told him that I didn’t really feel like I was in that camp, although I believe in the authority of the Bible. Then he said, “So if you’re evangelical, you’re basically saying your goal is to proselytize people.”
Remember, I’m interviewing for a position tutoring English. I said that I was pretty sure those two words are not synonymous. I explained the Greek root of the word evangelical. Euangellos in Greek is “bringing good,” so an evangelical is one who brings something good, in this case, the “good news” about redemption in Jesus. Proselytize, according to my OED, is “to make proselytes,” and a proselyte is “one who has come over from one opinion, belief, creed or party to another; a convert.” It comes from the Greek aorist form of proserk, meaning “to come to a place.”*
So is it the same thing? No, it is not. I hope that I manage to bring the good news about God in Jesus. If it causes a person to move from one opinion to another, that is really cool. But my primary work as a follower of Jesus is to share the good news, and to share it as if it really is good news. Good news is not scary or threatening. Good news doesn’t sound like, “if you don’t believe in Jesus you’re going to Hell!” You’d be hard pressed to find Jesus inviting people into his circle with that kind of talk anywhere in the Gospels. Good news doesn’t come in an argumentative or defensive tone. Good news makes a person feel relieved and comforted.**
The good news sounds more like this. In spite of the fact that I am broke, I know I serve a God who will somehow, some way take care of my needs and my family’s needs. It is good news that God loves me abundantly, and that his love can transform my life for the good. He can help me turn into a person who joyfully serves others, rather than a person that is only concerned about herself and her little family circle.
*I had to look up the definition and root of proselyte after the interview.
** I am aware that sometimes the gospel/good news is received badly, but that is another post.