Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Living and Thinking Today

One complaint that I frequently hear from Christians who are witnessing to others is that they cannot imagine bringing such people to church out of fear that such an experience will do them more harm than good. Closely allied to this is the failure of churches to adequately deal with the questions that are being asked in the wider culture. This tends to make Christianity appear irrelevant to "real" life which means that people will look elsewhere for answers.

Both complaints need to be taken seriously and addressed. When we gather in our public worship services we need to understand that what we are doing will seem very strange to those without a church background. This does not mean we should change what we are doing to suit the unchurched, but it means that we need to explain the rational for our actions. The same thing applies to Bible teaching and preaching. A biblical life and worldview is foreign to people in our day. They do not understand the theological context that shapes our thinking and speaking. Once again this does not mean that we stop teaching and preaching, rather it requires that we take the time to bridge the gap between the world of our listeners and the world of informed, committed believers. If we do not make the effort we unintentionally send the signal that our listeners do not matter, or that the truth of the word of God does not apply to everyone. This, of course, is not true, but that is what it looks and sounds like if we are not careful.

If we are to address the questions being asked in the wider culture we must work hard. It is easy to go over truths that we are familiar with and that many in our congregations know well. And it is comforting and reassuring to many for the simple reason that people generally do not like to be challenged or made to feel uncertain when it comes to what they think they know. But challenge them we must or we will not be "salt" and "light" in the world as Jesus intended. Christianity is never afraid of the truth. We are not Christians because that is our heritage or culture. Our Christianity is founded on the conviction that Jesus Christ is the ultimate revelation of God and that all wisdom is found in him. This means that when people come along, as they inevitably will, and they make truth claims that challenge the scriptures we are compelled to respond by carefully studying their claims in light of the Bible. We cannot afford to run from these challenges today or to pretend they do not exist. It is impossible to insulate people from anything today for very long. We must fight today's battles and not yesterday's! We must identify where truth is being undermined in our day and respond appropriately. In one way or another all the members of the congregation must be taught how to bring every thought captive to Christ. This is hard work but worth it in the end.

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