Near the beginning of one of my all-time favorite movies, The Princess Bride, one of the characters exclaims the same word, “Inconceivable!”, several times, even though events of which he cannot conceive continue to happen. Another character remarks, “You keep saying that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

I want to make that same remark to members of the press today. They keep using the word “evangelical,” but I do not think it means what they think it means.

To be evangelical doesn’t mean you’re white. It doesn’t mean you’re conservative. It doesn’t mean you’re a Republican. You could be all three of those things and not be an evangelical or you could be none of them and be an evangelical.

I realize this word has just become a shorthand term to identify a particular ethnic and political ideology, but they need to find another word to describe this segment of the population.

To be evangelical, in the traditional sense, is to have a desire or commitment to share something with someone else. Last week I went to a restaurant for the first time and I have been positively evangelical in sharing with others about it.

To be a Christian evangelical is to be a follower of Jesus Christ who believes that the good news of salvation through faith in Christ is something that we should share with the world. That message supersedes any ethnic identification or political affiliation.

Now, with that definition in mind, do you — you personally — choose to be an evangelical? It is a conscious choice, even though Jesus commanded it of his followers. He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19a). Jesus says that’s our job, but you get to decide whether or not to be obedient.

However, if that is the choice you make, let me remind you of just two things: How you act speaks far more loudly than what you say and your witness is comprised of your whole life, not just what you consider to be the “spiritual” part.

The first premise should be obvious, the second perhaps not so much. If you want to be evangelical in the best sense, you must present to the world the kind of life that others would want to have. It is all through the work of the Holy Spirit within you, rather than your own efforts, but we need to be conscious of all those areas where the Holy Spirit needs to take effect:

The way you treat the wait staff in a restaurant, your mechanic, the clerk in the grocery store.

Your interactions with your neighbors, including your willingness to help out when they need it.

The language you use at work, the approach you take with customers, your conduct on the ballfield or on the sidelines.

The articles you post to your FaceBook account, the opinions you express in your Twitter feed, the pictures you display on social media.

The way you treat your dog.

Whether you choose to listen to or share gossip.

It’s not an exhaustive list but you get the idea.

In writing to the Colossians, Paul counseled them: “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time” (Colossians 4:5). Paul wanted them to be evangelical, and he knew that the way they treated “outsiders” would make a difference. It still does.