Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Gospel in Post-Christian America

So, is this post-Christian America? That right there will bother some people. Fewer and fewer attend church, or say they are believers in Christ. Recently I heard a British Evangelist named Pethers share a story from the UK. About a Vicar who was giving a class from public school a tour of his church building. They knew almost nothing about church so he was teaching them words like pulpit, pew, baptismal and every time they walked by a large crucifix on the wall one boy tried to get his attention. Finally he turned to the boy and asked him to ask his question again. The boy pointed to the crucifix and said who's the bloke on the wall.
Some say that's the USA in 50 years, Pethers said we're only about 20 years behind them.
Christianity is a forgotten religion to the present generations.

So, how do we share a gospel in a world that has no respect for scripture, no knowledge of man's bent toward sinning, Hell, Heaven, or whether they should even be concerned. Its not that they have chosen not to care, they don't know they SHOULD care. They don't know there is anything to care about.

They like Christmas for the materialism and family traditions. Easter is probably an enigma except for Rabbit eggs. The baby in the manger is irrelevant and they don't even know who is on the cross.

Pethers suggested something I like, he said, what if we made it our goal, not so much to share "The plan of salvation" with people, but we just bring them a little closer to thinking rightly about God. Everyone is in a different place. When you interact (build relationships) with them try to leave them a little closer to God than when you found them. Put in a nice word about what Jesus has done for you. Why Jesus came to earth. Maybe why salvation is even necessary. Don't assume ANYTHING.

But I want to add to that. There is a place, still, for sharing the "Gospel" if not jumping right into the "Plan of salvation." Because, after all, they aren't the same thing. The "Plan of salvation" is NOT the power of God unto salvation, the GOSPEL IS! (Romans 1:16-17) The Gospel is the Good News of Jesus Christ. But Good News needs a context; That requires the Bad News. While Jonathan Edwards preached to a very different crowd than exists today, his emphasis on the reality of Hell, and man's incredibly awful predicament as sinners hanging by a thread over a fiery pit, is still not a bad idea. As Janet Denison said in her blog, talking about Heaven is much more socially acceptable than talking about Hell. Heaven is just a nicer subject all around. But as terrible as it is to talk about about Hell, Janet points out, "I don't want to go around scaring people with the existence of hell.  But there is a worse thought.  I don't want them to go there." (http://www.janetdenison.com/blog/19-highway-2012-heaven-or-hell)

So what do we do? How do we present the good news? How do we keep the USA from this downward spiral of unbelief? Well, First of all, we can't keep that from happening. God can, we can't, lets be honest. But we can be faithful witnesses of A) our own testimony of what Christ has done for us, B) proclaiming the Good News in light of the Bad News, and C) build relationships with people and bring them closer to understanding the gospel; Little by little. A seed is pretty small, but it can bring forth a lot. A little watering of the seed and prayer for the seed are both in order.

But in the final analysis we have to trust that God knew what He was doing when he told us to go make disciples, and that the good news of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will break a man or woman's heart; even today in 21st Century America; this post-modern, post-Christian era of biblical apathy.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Feel free to tell me and others what you think. You can use the tools of rhetoric but please, be clean and nice.