Faith

The Most Attractive Faith

How to be 'others focused' in a selfish world

What does your faith look like? Is it attractive? Beguiling? Mysterious? Luminous? Beautiful? Joyful? Compelling? Delicious?

“Instead of seeming to impose new obligations, they should appear as people who wish to share their joy, who point to a horizon of beauty and who invite others to a delicious banquet. It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but ‘by attraction,’” Pope Francis said in Gospel of Joy, 15.

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We should ask ourselves: What do people see when they look at my life? Do I share my joy with others? (Better question: Do I have any joy to share?) Do I point out horizons of beauty? Do I invite others to a “delicious banquet” simply by living an attractive life?

Do I have an attractive faith? What exactly does that look like? I can do a quick check by simply asking myself: What attracts me to others? And then look to see if I am the kind of person I would like to hang around!

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To me, someone who is open, friendly, warm, sincere, joyful and has an inviting smile is attractive. Someone who is uplifting and shares the love of God with everyone they meet; when they walks in a room they say, “Oh, there YOU are” Instead of, “Hellloooo! Here I am! Gotta love me!”

We find all of these beautiful characteristics in Jesus.

Someone humble, giving and kind. Someone who truly cares. Someone who will drop what they are doing to help me if I am in need. Someone who genuinely “sees” me.

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Hmmm. Does this describe me? Am I this kind of person for others?

We find all of these beautiful characteristics in Jesus.

He was always seeking out people — those front and center, like the Pharisees — and those, well, not “center stage,” such as Zacchaeus, for instance. Jesus even sought out those who did not necessarily want to be found, such as the Samaritan woman at the well. He seemed to make everyone feel special because He saw beyond the external. He truly saw “in” them, not just what met the eye.

I find that in order to live this attractive life, I must be “others focused.”

I must first look to God to meet my needs and infuse me, instead of looking to human relationships to fill me.

But I can’t give to others what I don’t have myself, so how do I do this?

I must first look to God to meet my needs and infuse me, instead of looking to human relationships to fill me. If I have the blessing of being around a joyful “others focused” person, great! But even then, I must be careful not to look to them to “top me off,” but look to God to meet my needs in order for His love to flow freely through me and out to a hurting world.

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And if I am around a “needy” person, I must be careful as well. If I try to fill them up from my own “well,” I will find myself quickly drained dry, so it is even more important for me to go to the source of all life in order to be filled in order to give. I must stay as far upstream as possible; learn to drink deeply from the “Fount and Source of all Goodness” if I want to be good to others.

How do I do this? Prayer, the sacraments, Scripture reading and just hanging around Jesus: “wasting time with Jesus.” If I do not make the time to be filled — to sit and just be with Him — what the world will get from me is sadly not very “attractive.” (If you don’t believe me, just ask my family!)

If I want to “be Jesus,” I must first be with Jesus. I take Him in and He takes me in and we commune with each other as One; we happily “melt together.”

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I pray that we can live this attractive life, a life like Jesus, because if the world could really see Jesus in us and through us, the Church would be filled to overflowing. The beautiful horizon would be filled with hope for a sweeter tomorrow. And we would all be feasting at the delicious banquet of the Lamb … Thy Kingdom Come… Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.

“And may the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us. And so, direct the works of our hands over us; direct the works of our hands.” — Psalm 90:17

Melissa Overmyer is founder of  Something Greater Ministries in Washington, D.C., and has taught the Bible for more than 30 years.

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