Makipag-usap Up Ang Ebanghelyo ni Steve Sjogren

Ako narinig ng maraming haka-haka tungkol sa pagpapamana ng ari-arian bumigkas ng kusang-loob evangelistic pag-uusap tulad ng verbalizing ang Ebanghelyo sa mga hindi kakilala. Nauunawaan ko ang obserbasyon ng mga prognosticators ngunit hindi sumasang-ayon ako sa kanila. Ito ay totoo na ang mga tao ay mas nakahiwalay kaysa kailanman bilang sila lungga higit pa at mas malalim sa kanilang mga self-made na digital na mundo, ngunit mayroong isa pang bahagi sa ito digital barya. Ito ay totoo rin na ang isang emosyonal na vacuum ay nilikha kapag ang mga tao na i-cut-off ang kanilang mga sarili mula sa malaking mga tao sa pakikipag-ugnay at ang isang malawak na pagiging bukas ay nilikha para sa mga koneksyon sa iba - yes, kahit na hindi kakilala. Tulad ng mga tao sa paligid mo venture sa karagdagang papunta sa kanilang mga digital na mga butas kuneho sabay na nagiging sila lumago upang buksan ang mga tao sa pakikipag-ugnay.

Narito kung ano ang tingin ko: mga tao ay mga lonelier ngayon kaysa sila ay lamang ng ilang taon na ang nakalipas bago ang digital na mundo na ginawa ang advances mayroon itong. Sila ngayon ay buksan sa pakikipag-usap sa mga estranghero habang ang mga ito nang isang beses ay. Isang pamilyar na cycle ay nagawa na. Ano ang tunay na ng ilang dekada na nakalipas - mga taong kumikilos magiliw sa kabuuang mga estranghero at pagiging bukas sa mga pag-uusap tungkol sa Ebanghelyo - ay totoo sa sandaling muli. Ito ay hindi lamang mabuting balita - ito groundbreaking para sa lahat na pag-ibig kay Jesus at ang mga naghahanap upang mapalawak ang Kaharian ng Diyos. Ito ay isang kamangha-manghang oras upang mabuhay sa mundong ito. Ito ay magiging isang pangmatagalang trend sa buong mundo. Sa wakas, cell phone sa lahat ng dako - sa gayon ay ang paghihiwalay at impluwensiya na napupunta sa mga ito.

Natin maging matalino sa mga paraang ito at ilipat sa ang mga pagkakataon bago sa amin.

Mag-quit Dumbing Down Ang Ebanghelyo sa pamamagitan ng Donald Miller

Aking kaibigan Greg at ako ay na-pakikipag-usap tila tungkol sa kung ano ang ibig sabihin nito upang sundin si Jesus. Greg ay hindi isaalang-alang ang kanyang sarili bilang isang tao na tumatagal Jesus sineseryoso, ngunit siya admits sa pagkakaroon ng mga tanong. Hindi ko magkaroon ng isang formula para sa kanya upang maunawaan kung paano ang isang Christian gawa ng conversion, but I told him that many years ago, when I was a child, I had heard about Jesus and found the idea of Him compelling, then much later, while reading the Gospels, came to believe I wanted to follow Him. This changed things in my life, Aniko, because it involved giving up everything and choosing to go into a relationship with Him.

Greg told me he had seen a pamphlet with four or five ideas on it, ideas such as man was a sinner, sin separated man from God, and Christ died to absolve the separation. He asked me if this was what I believed, and I told him, essentially, that it was. “Those would be the facts of the story,” I said, “but that isn’t the story.”

“Those are the ideas, but it isn’t the narrative,” Greg stated rhetorically.

“Yes,” I told him.

Earlier that same year I had a conversation with my friend Omar, who is a student at a local college. For his humanities class, Omar was assigned to read the majority of the Bible. He asked to meet with me for coffee, and when we sat down he put a Bible on the table as well as a pamphlet containing the same five or six ideas Greg had mentioned. He opened the pamphlet, read the ideas and asked if these concepts were important to the central message of Christianity. I told Omar they were critical; that, basically, this was the gospel of Jesus, the backbone of Christian faith. Omar then opened his Bible and asked, “If these ideas are so important, why aren’t they in this book?"

“But the Scripture references are right here,” I said curiously, showing Omar that the verses were printed next to each idea.

“I see that,"Sinabi niya. “But in the Bible they aren’t concise like they are in this pamphlet. They are spread out all over the book.”

“But this pamphlet is a summation of the ideas,” I clarified.

“Right,” Omar continued, “but it seems like, if these ideas are that critical, God would have taken the time to make bullet points out of them. Sa halip, He put some of them here and some of them there. And half the time, when Jesus is talking, He is speaking entirely in parables. It is hard to believe that whatever it is He is talking about can be summed up this simply.”

Omar’s point is well taken. And while the ideas presented in these pamphlets are certainly true, it struck me how simply we had begun to explain the ideas, not only how simply, but how nonrelationally, how propositionally. I don’t mean any of this to fault the pamphlets at all. Tracts such as the ones Omar and Greg encountered have been powerful tools in helping people understand the beauty of the message of Christ. Millions, perhaps, have come to know Jesus through these efficient presentations of the Gospel. But I did begin to wonder if there were better ways of explaining it than these pamphlets. Sa wakas, the pamphlets have been around for only the last 50 years or so (along with our formulaic presentation of the Gospel), and the church has shrunk, not grown, in Western countries in which these tools have been used. But the greater trouble with these reduced ideas is that modern evangelical culture is so accustomed to this summation that it is difficult for us to see the Gospel as anything other than a list of true statements with which a person must agree.

It makes me wonder if, because of this reduced version of the claims of Christ, we believe the Gospel is easy to understand, a simple mental exercise, not the least bit mysterious. And if you think about it, a person has a more difficult time explaining romantic love, for instance, or beauty, or the Trinity, than the gospel of Jesus. John would open his gospel by presenting the idea that God is the Word and Jesus is the Word and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Not exactly bullet points for easy consumption. Perhaps our reduction of these ideas has caused us to miss something.

Biblically, you are hard-pressed to find theological ideas divorced from their relational context. There are, essentially, three dominant metaphors describing our relationship with God: sheep to a shepherd, child to a father, and bride to a bridegroom. The idea of Christ’s disciples being His mother and father and brothers and sisters is also presented. Sa katunayan, few places in Scripture speak to the Christian conversion experience through any method other than relational metaphor.

To a culture that believes they “go to heaven” based on whether or not they are morally pure, or whether they understand some theological ideas, or they are very spiritual, Jesus is completely unnecessary. At best, He is an afterthought, a technicality by which we become morally pure, or a subject of which we know, or a founding father of our woo-woo spirituality.

In a culture that worships science, relational propositions will always be left out of arguments attempting to surface truth. We believe, quite simply, that unless we can chart something, it doesn’t exist. And you can’t chart relationships. Furthermore, in our attempts to make relational propositions look like chartable realities, all beauty and mystery is lost. And so when times get hard, when reality knocks us on our butts, mathematical propositions are unable to comfort our failing hearts. How many people have walked away from faith because their systematic theology proved unable to answer the deep longings and questions of the soul? What we need here, truly, is faith in a Being, not a list of ideas.

And one should not think our current method of interpreting Scripture has an ancient legacy. The modern view of Scripture originated in an age of industrial revolution when corporations were becoming more important than family (the husband, for the first time, left the home and joined Corporate America, building cars instead of families), and productivity was more important than relationships. “How can God help me get what I want?” was the idea, not, “Who is God, and how can I know Him?”

Imagine a pamphlet explaining the gospel of Jesus that said something like this:

You are the bride to the Bridegroom, and the Bridegroom is Jesus Christ. You must eat of His flesh and drink of His blood to know Him, and your union with Him will make you one, and your oneness with Him will allow you to be identified with Him, His purity allowing God to interact with you, and because of this you will be with Him in eternity, sitting at His side and enjoying His companionship, which will be more fulfilling than an earthly husband or an earthly bride. All you must do to engage God is be willing to leave everything behind, be willing to walk away from your identity, and embrace joyfully the trials and tribulations, the torture and perhaps martyrdom that will come upon you for being a child of God in a broken world working out its own redemption in empty pursuits.

Though it sounds absurd, this is a much more accurate summation of the gospel of Jesus than the bullet points we like to consider when we think about Christ’s message to humanity.

Donald MillerDonald Miller says the message of God is more than a 3-step program.

This article is adapted from the newly revised Searching for God Knows What (Thomas Nelson, 2010).