Jesus says he has come to give life, and give life to the full. If Christians really do believe this (and they should!) you have to wonder why they are not better at passing on this tremendous news.
This hesitation seems to be a relatively recent phenomenon, at least when viewed alongside church history since the time of Jesus and the early church. Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity has shown that early Christians were responsible for the incredibly rapid and effective spread the message of Jesus. Cultures then were very different form cultures now, but the Gospel broke new cultural and social ground on a regular basis.
If it’s true that we live in a more open and tolerant society, why do Christians today struggle to share the good news?
Maybe we’ve become too reliant on programs and packaged approaches. If we need to know the program, the outline, or the diagram, but we don’t know it very well, no one will jump when the opportunity arises. We’ve seen evangelism experts hold huge rallies, and the televangelists on the screen. We compare ourselves to these people, and we always pull up short.
Have you considered that grassroots Christianity is a much more powerful vehicle for sharing the good news about Jesus? Not only that: it is more likely to meet with a positive reception.
Here’s why: the message of Jesus needs to be observed in the context of friendship, relationship, and the realities of life. When this happens, people see what it means to follow Jesus in the context of their families. They see people doing what they can to live a Jesus honouring life at work. People showing the relevance of Jesus in the context of education or academic pursuit. People talking about the difference Jesus makes as they chat over the back fence to their neighbour.
In these environments there is so little pretence. There’s very little capacity for ‘saying one thing’ and ‘doing another. Here it is all about authenticity. It’s the sort of glass house that allows people to see what life with Jesus is really like.
This will take Jesus and his transforming grace into homes, families, workplaces, schools and any number of other social contexts. As such, it represents a tremendous opportunity to reinvigorate western Christianity. Risky, I know, but what an incredible opportunity to revitalise how a watching world sees a loving God!
In the posts to come, I want to look a little more about how we can do this better.
Q: Have you ever thought of asking your neighbours over for a meal with the intention of being open about your faith in Jesus? What would needs to change for you to do this?
Grace and peace: Dave