Jesus Talk - A work in progress
Christians are at the same time content and discontent. Content to be safe in the care of Jesus. Discontent because we are still a work in progress. I have become rightly discontent with what I thought was good.
A week of conversations
This week has been a little unusual. I have had three very long conversations with people who were once involved in church and now, for very different reasons, put themselves firmly in the uncaring agnostic or atheist camp.
As I think back over these conversations some of the comments were “why should I believe you?” and “Christians just ram it down your throat and don’t give room for you to think for yourself!” and “It’s my life, and no one has the right to tell me which path to take”.
And as I think back over my responses to these comments, I realise that I tried to explain the reasonableness of Faith, the validity of the claims of the Scriptures and the fact that, because each person had a settled position from which they attacked others, there was an an unwillingness to change, and so I tried to call on them to re-consider. These arguments are helpful, and have a legitimate place in our conversations, but each time I was not completely happy with the conversation.
It’s not about you
Troubled by my concerns, I went to chapel, as we do several times each week at Moore College, and Archbishop Peter Jensen was preaching on hope from Romans 15:13. Early in his sermon he did not quote, but alluded to the Heidelberg catechism. To refresh our memories, the catechism is a series of questions and answers, the first being:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong— body and soul,
in life and in death— to my faithful Saviour, Jesus Christ.
He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood,
and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil.
He also watches over me in such a way
that not a hair can fall from my head
without the will of my Father in heaven;
in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.8
That is what I had forgotten in my conversations! Not just that this reminder of the mercy of God warms your soul, but in the end we do not seek for God, nor are forced to submit to Him, but that it is only because God in his goodness seeks us out and renews our minds to see Him and turn to Him.
It reminds me of the lovely words the apostle Paul uses in Galatians 4:9 “but now that you know God—or rather are known by God”.
I think my conversation partners were left thinking it was all about them and the decisions they make. In the end it is not about them, but about responding to the gracious God who is there and lovingly makes Himself known. And I failed to leave that truth ringing in their ears.
So I have learnt some things from this week.
- Apologetics isn’t enough. Just giving reasons for the reasonableness of belief only gets you started.
- What we are calling people to, the hope that we have, has a name, a face and a future. It is Jesus. It is not an idea we are introducing people to, but our Saviour.
- Don’t be afraid to tell things as they are. I realized I was responding to their questions, which, because of their position did not include a God who makes Himself known. Engage in conversation on the bigger platform: God draws people, and calls us to respond to Him.
- We have a better story to tell than the fact the Christian gospel is the most believable world view. Our story is that the gospel of what God has done in Jesus is both true and the best thing that can happen to a person.
I notice how quickly I can lose ‘form’. I know that proclaiming Jesus is the centre of any evangelism. But if you get rusty, you can so easily take your cues from those you are in conversation with rather than the character of God and so misrepresent the gospel call. And that it doesn’t take very long for this to happen!
Image: Sharon Mollerus, Flickr