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Monday, June 30, 2008

Speaking of Jesus - July 2008

In a recent Christianity Today interview with Tim Keller, an influential pastor in New York City, he was asked the question "Are doubts that believers face the same doubts that unbelievers face?" I thought his response was interesting. He said,
It's your society that gives you the doubts. If you go to the Middle East and ask people what makes Christianity implausible, they're not going to say, "Because there can't be one true religion." They're going to say, "Because of how oppressive America has been as a Christian nation, and if you look at their culture, it's lascivious and debauched."

If you ask Americans, "What makes Christianity implausible to you?" they're not going to say, "Your popular culture is filled with sex and violence." They will say, "How could there be one true religion?"

Christians are living in the same culture that is blasting unbelievers with this is what is implausible about Christianity. If they lived in another culture, they'd be blasted with something else. So they probably are dealing with the same things [as non-Christians are] intellectually.
Christianity Today v. 52, number 6, June 2008. p. 38.

I think that this answer is incredibly insightful and can be applied to our situations with our friends who don't know Jesus. And, though I think he is absolutely right as to why many Americans do not want to follow Jesus (i.e., His exclusive claims), what we can take from this answer is that the way we talk about our faith is going to be shaped by the objections people raise. So, you are not going to emphasize that Christianity is the only way to people who are upset by the lack or morality a so-called "Christian" nation has produced. That is not their hang-up.

When discussing the faith, we need to make sure we are dealing with the questions people are asking. So, for the American who struggles with whether or not Jesus can really be the ONLY way, it is incumbent upon us to explain why Jesus can be the only way and is the only way. And to the person who is troubled by the moral laxity in America, we agree wholeheartedly with their assessment (we are a pretty sinful nation) and explain God's view on sin and the grace he gives to all of us who have fallen away.

So, to bring this home, find out from your friends and coworkers what is keeping them away from Christianity. Be willing to ask the hard questions, "Why is it that you don't go to church?" "Why don't you believe in Jesus?" and so on. Don't ever anticipate an answer, you never know what someone will say. But, be willing to go home and pray about their answer and seek direction from God and your brothers and sisters here at church as to how to deal with their objections.

Pastor Bob

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