As another element of this unexpected journey unfolds, I realize that this deep abiding hope is curiously missing something that has been at the core of my religious upbringing. You could even say that it is something that will blow the cork off of your religious thinking. Not once in any of these instances (mentioned in last weeks post) is there even a mention about winning souls, evangelizing or bringing people to Christ. Could this mean that we are not to evangelize? Absolutely not! We are to indeed present the message of the good news—just maybe not the way we have been taught. There is a hope and there is a future. Is it possible that when the Old Testament prophet spoke of God’s thoughts towards His people as not being evil thoughts, but rather thoughts of a hope and a future, that this is the hope and the future he meant? I think the answer might be yes. This means that your name and my name and the name of every other human being that has chosen to follow Jesus are also included. Does this mean that presenting the good news is a central part of our new birth experience? It is an interesting question. The gospel of Mark gives us some insight into how Jesus ordered his daily life. Perhaps by looking into the way Jesus operated on a daily basis could give us some insight into this question. In Mark’s account of Jesus life, he tells us that Jesus got up long before daylight to go out to a quiet place and pray. The scripture does not specifically tell us what he prayed, but we can gather a certain understanding as to what it could have been by his teachings on prayer. The gospel of Matthew records what we have come to call the Sermon on the Mount. It is in what we have come to understand as the sixth chapter that Jesus offers the following guidance on this subject of prayer. He tells us not to pray in public so as to been seen by people—if we do our reward is being seen by people. He tells us not to pray by using scripted prayers of repetition—they will not get the attention of the Father. He tells us to find a quite place to talk to God. He tells us to talk with our Father on a personal basis—our father, you who sit in heaven. Your name is holy. He reminds us the importance of the Father’s will being done on earth. You may recall that during the beginning of his passion, after expressing his desire, he followed it with, “but thy will be done.” Jesus continues in Matthew chapter six by telling us how important it is to find out what is necessary for today—give us today our daily bread. It is Luke’s gospel that tells us how Jesus prayed all night in order to find out who were to follow him as disciples. Later in Luke’s account of his life, Jesus tells the religious people of the day that he must expel demons and cure people for the next two days. How can he know this without knowing what the Father’s will is for his life? Is it possible that Jesus is modeling a personal relationship with the Father? I believe it is. Jesus also reminds us to keep short accounts of our sins by asking the Father to forgive us of them. He instructs us that it is not the Father that leads us into areas of temptation. The Father delivers us from evil—when we have gone astray. It is the Father’s kingdom in which you and I are kings and priests as he tells us in the book of Revelation. So what did Jesus pray in those early morning meetings with the Father? He had a conversation with him about righteous things that concerned things the Father needed him to accomplish that day. He honored the Father with praise; acknowledged the Father’s place in his life; and talked with him about decisions that needed to be made that affected the kingdom. This understanding alone is enough to chew on for a while, but the point to be understood is how this related to presenting the gospel message as we have been taught is so important. It is Luke’s account that I mentioned earlier that gives us the knowledge of evangelism. Jesus told the Pharisees that he had to expel demons and cure people. In other words he was doing miraculous—things only God can do—things among the people. These things got their attention thereby making them curious enough to ask questions. These questions meant that they were open to learning something new. This allowed Jesus—and therefore allows us—the opportunity to introduce the good news message. It was not some spectacle of showmanship designed to awe the crowd—In fact Jesus would often depart when a crowd gathered. The example that Jesus offers us is the simple obedience of obeying the voice of the Holy Spirit while in the marketplace doing the daily activities of living. This was/is important for what purpose? The purpose was—and is—to share the good news! Imagine how impacted your world would be if every believer in it simply acted as Jesus did in this one illustration? What a different world it would be. Now that my friend is evangelism!