It used to be that a missionary had to go to the far reaches of the globe to reach people. We used to think that missionary work is only for those with wanderlust, but that's just one angle.
For me, the mission field is the internet. If my call to baptism is to spread the Gospel of Jesus, then the best place to reach people is right here on the world wide web.
There are so many ways to reach people nowadays. I share my thoughts on the mission of being a Christian to spread the idea that what Jesus taught is solid life advice.
I hope that by sharing my relationship with Jesus that you might see you have a relationship with him too. Along the way, we'll get to use some of our gifts, experienced some Challenge, and succeed in a mission.
The nice thing about the social media age is that we can perform great works of Mercy in the name of God without being so overt about that intention.
Take the Spiritual works of Mercy for example. Online and Social Media are the perfect environment for exercising these gifts. Let's take a look.
COUNSELING THE DOUBTFUL
Who doesn't have doubts from time to time? Honestly, I doubt on several levels from a simple dismissive thought too severe doubts about some Truths the Church espouses. Three tips from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops gives us some insight on how to use our online presence in this work.
-Has someone asked you for advice? Orient your response to Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
-Follow Christ with the witness of your life so that others may see God's love revealed in your actions.
-Accompany a friend who is struggling with believing to join a parish group for service or faith formation, share a book you found useful in dealing with your friend's faith concern and worship at Sunday Mass.
INSTRUCTING THE IGNORANT
The more we learn about our faith, the more open we can be about what we believe. Many people think they know what we stand for as the people of God, but their mistakes often mislead them to a false understanding of our Catholic Culture. We should not be ashamed or embarrassed to share what we know and be open to learning more.
ADMONISHING THE SINNER
Jesus provided the best examples of this work in the Gospels. The Adulterous woman, the lepers, A tax collector, and some fishermen were all among the sinners whom Jesus walked.
Some things to keep in mind as we exercise this Spiritual work of Mercy.
Remember, you sin too! Don't accept the sin of another, but don't condemn them either. This action is where we are called to accompany someone to a closer relationship with Jesus. We all need correction when it comes to understanding God's love.
COMFORTING THE SORROWFUL
When haven't we seen someone share an obituary or a terrible diagnosis on social media? Our brother or sister is in pain, their pain is our pain (1. Cor. 25:26) so why not share a kind word or send a private message. These works can amount to a tremendous source of strength for those enduring their sorrow.
FORGIVING THOSE WHO OFFEND US
In today's online culture, it is easy to be offended by something someone posts. The lens which they look through may be narrow, and our reception of such messages may catch us on a broader lens (does that make sense?). Don't let the sin go unaddressed, but then immediately forgive. Both the offender and forgiver will feel a sense of compassion and growth from the encounter.
Is that coworker getting under your skin? Your spouse making you anxious? These things tend to creep out onto social media and what we need to do is take a deep breath. God will be with us, and he will grant us peace. So sink in and let the Holy Spirit guide your typing.
PRAY FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD
We encounter hundreds of people each day in our social feeds. Some openly ask for prayer. We meet the loss of strangers through our network connections and praying for these dead people is an easy enough thing.
"God, give them your peace."
There has never been such a huge mission field for these works along with other activities surrounding the Gospel life. So when you ask why I call myself an online missionary, there's an example of my extension of ministry via my baptism.
THE OTHER MISSION
My other mission is a personal one of aiding people in living a healthier life. Let me share a brief story.
I told my story of weight loss to someone once, and they asked me a straight forward question: was it also a spiritual experience?
Yes! I might not have realized it at the time, but I quite literally became a new creation. When your body changes that dramatically, it doesn't just change the exterior person, but the inner self as well.
Since the transformation occurred, I have been sharing my success and sharing as informal replies of how I did it to the in-depth change of others through my mentorship and coaching. It wasn't an apparent effort at first because I felt I had discovered a secret life-hack. The truth is that my discovery wasn't a hack, I found a lifestyle change, and that's what made it feel "easy."
I would feel like a hypocrite (more than I already am) if I just sat back and didn't live as an ambassador and mentor for the specific tools and methods I have made use of all these years. So I coach others as they desire to receive coaching. I stand on a digital hill and shout the joy of living a fit & active lifestyle.
If that's not missionary work in the digital age, I'm not sure what more could be? You see, I believe as we connect to thousands of people in our lives we share the things that make us who we are in the world. I know who I am- a thinker on things Christ-centered, and an advocate/mentor of things health-centered. They are not mutually exclusive missions; they are quite related so as you follow these missions of mine, join in with me either in growth together as Disciples, or as Missionaries of healthy living.
You will see how your spirit rejoices in more profound daily faith and a healthier human body.
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