Christ instructs us to share the Gospel and make disciples. To this end, C.O.M.E. sets goals and definitions, collects and shares Best Practices and promotes successful programs. The ongoing prerequisite, however, is that we must first be disciples. In other words, we must be imitators of Christ, experiencing the joy of the Christian life in such a way that our sharing of the Gospel is much more than words. Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana, writes succinctly about this in his book, Mission in Christ’s Way:
“Given that the work of the missionary is to continue the earthly ministry of our Lord, he should accept the way of life of his Teacher… In order to be at all times a living witness of the presence of our Lord, the missionary must be in continuous personal relationship with Him. He must not only think or talk about Him, but ‘live in Christ’ (Gal. 2:20). This means a deep relationship with Christ of the whole human person, not merely of his intellect. It is the transformed life of the entire being in Christ that is the true characteristic of the missionary.”
Archbishop Anastasios continues to describe the tools we must use to deepen our relationship with Christ:
“There are substantially two things that will help this living relationship. First, the sanctification of the missionary in the truth of the Gospel: ‘Sanctify them in truth; thy word is truth’ (John 17:17; cf. John 15:7; 8:31). Second, conscientious participation in the sacraments, especially the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (John 6:56-57)'”
Finally the Archbishop says of the missionary, “It matters not what he himself is going to say and do, but what the Lord will say and do through him.”
Let us begin today to set prayer, the reading of Scripture and participation in the Holy Sacraments at the foundation and allow Christ to work through us!
Archbishop Anastasios of Tirana is the primate of the Orthodox Church of Albania and a passionate advocate for mission work. Mission in Christ’s Way: An Orthodox Understanding of Mission is a collection of fifteen essays by the Archbishop, published in 2010 by Holy Cross Press.