We need a little perspective here. Our situation in the U.S.A., relative to Christians elsewhere, is not unusually difficult. It is true that we are now moving away from a time when Christianity has had some cultural acceptance. After all, consider how popular it has been to be “born again.”
But let us remember that outside the U.S.A., there are Christians who live under tyrannies, such as from Islam, or in extreme poverty, or surrounded by horrible political corruption, or are subject to rampant crime. Our situation is really not that bad!
What the Message Isn’t
What it requires is that we have some conviction about biblical truth, some savvy about the culture in which we are living, and the spine to preserve our identity as believers.
It is a temptation to think that by being nice and accommodating we can make the Christian gospel seem like a great little addition to everyone’s life.
But the gospel is not a great little addition. It is a soul-shaking, costly demanding reality. The church cannot hide this fact!
The gospel is not about self-therapy. Despite our pressured, taut, nerve jangling age, the Christian message is not there just to make us feel better about ourselves or more able to cope.
What the Message Is
It is about coming before our great God and Savior, confessing our sins, entrusting ourselves to Him, and surrendering our claim upon ourselves to Him.
What is Needed
What is most needed, and what is most lacking in the church, is a little character in differentiating its message from self-help therapies and marketing strategies. Our deficiency is not that we lack the right technique. It is that we often don’t have a real alternative.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you see the church as an alternative faith community to the culture?
- How can we live as an alternative faith community?
David F. Wells, The Soul-Shaping Reality of the Gospel, an interview in Table Talk Magazine, January 2011.