On Monday night, we discussed the assumptions we often make in attempting to explain Christ to others. Often, our hidden assumption in how we talk and explain things is that the person we’re talking to really wants to be a Christian, but doesn’t have enough information in order to know how to do that, or to make that decision. As a result, our explanations often boil down to feeding people information about what it takes to become a Christian, while more and more people we talk to don’t really have a good feel for what being a Christian actually means. (And, as a side note, it could be said that the more I reflect and talk and discuss, the less confident I am of what being a Christian actually means at times.)
One of the key points that James brought up was that often we go from proposition 1 – “You’re a sinner”, to proposition 2 – “You need Jesus” – without any real justification or explanation of that huge jump. One of the main reasons for that, I believe, is that we’ve grown up around our religious framework so much that we don’t see this as a big jump at all, where as people looking from the outside find it hard to comprehend how A leads to B.
Put another way – suppose that I’m someone who has never really heard of God. Suppose I also accept the fact that God exists, and I am a “sinner”. What does that mean? When we jump to the next step in our line, “You need Jesus,” I think most people scratch their heads and say, “Huh? Why’s that?”
I think the fundamental message here to me was this: when we speak to non-believers, each of us must try as best we can to identify all the assumptions we bring to the table and be aware of them when we’re talking to others who may not have the same background we do. As we attempt to bring Christ to others, we need to recognize that there is a difference between trying bring Christ to others, and trying to bring others to Christ. My hope and prayer is that as we consider that picture, each of us would seek to meet people where they are and bring Christ to a broken and hurting world, instead of trying to bring others along without first addressing the needs, concerns, positions, and beliefs that place them where they are. My prayer is that just as Christ started with people where they were but didn’t leave them there, so we too would be willing to go the extra mile in order to model Christ in their lives in all aspects – including the ways we minister to them.