Christians are a worrying lot. One of the things we worry about lately is that our culture is becoming more secular. It is. You can stop worrying. While that will create some unique challenges for us, we’ll manage. But, that doesn’t change the fact that we are still really worried about this. And it’s not just the loons in the family this time. It’s the, ahem, respectableamong us, too.
In fact, what stirred this up for me was this guy I respect a lot saying something that I didn’t really agree with. His comment, to me, is representative of a larger, wrong-headed idea about evangelism and dealing with those outside of the church.
It’s the End of the World as We Know It…
The comment was in response to the question of what he thought one of the greatest challenges we’re facing in evangelism was. He responded that we are talking past each other because our common ground is being lost. It was a quick response and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he meant something different. However, that doesn’t change the fact that this echoes the worry I’ve heard a lot lately.
Well, you might ask, aren’t we losing ground? Isn’t American culture slowly realizing that they don’t believe in God and that lack of belief means they also don’t believe in morality as God defines it?
The answer is yes, but…
…And I Feel Fine.
I’ve heard a lot of people lament the fact that we used to know that, at the very least, the vast majority of those outside the family of God shared similar moral beliefs as we. Now that’s not the case. So, they are deeply concerned that if we don’t have that moral common ground that we can’t even begin to talk to them about God.
But I submit that having common moral ground is beside the point.
I think the problem is that we’re focusing on the wrong things. We’re so used to the advantage of having some morals in common that we think we must have that particular advantage to talk to people outside the faith at all. It’s just not true. Because we’ve built up entire arguments based around those similar beliefs over dozens of decades doesn’t mean they’re the only arguments (or that they were particularly good in the first place.)
I simply don’t have to convince someone of my views on morality to talk to them about Jesus. We don’t have to agree on anything at all for me to talk to a fellow human being about unending redeeming love.
If Christianity was a philosophy, which we seem to believe it is, then we would totally have to convince the living heck out of people. We’d have to come up with different intricate arguments which we then used to counteract other’s dubious beliefs and make sure that we are well-prepared to give an answer for the totally logical argument we have within.
But it’s not a philosophy. Christianity is about a person. (Notice the prefix.) Jesus Christ. God among us. The Prince of Peace.
So, the idea that we are losing common ground is somewhat of a silly notion. At least, to me. I think it comes from a false premise, namely that we need some type of philosophical mutual understanding to talk to people about Jesus. If you want common ground—love without strings and sincere friendships are universal common ground, and I detest the idea that this would be considered a simplistic answer.
God’s Spirit and the visible love of Jesus on our behalf are plenty truth to go around.
If anything, I think it is in fact Christians who tend to lose common ground with Jesus.
(Live Studio Audience says, “Oooooh.”)
The conversation we have been very publically having with the world at large has been about morality, and not Jesus. Therein lies the problem. We have somehow confused what the Bible says with what we’re more comfortable with. We’ve made ethics an idol, when it is God himself who changes us by virtue of being in a relationship with him.
If you’re looking for common philosophical ideas, your boat is sunk. Thankfully, Jesus isn’t even a little nervous.