The Gospel in Real Life

Today I read John 2-4 and chapter 9 in Integrity. I am always fascinated how Jesus talked to people about life and faith. He always had a way of first understanding who the person was and then framing their world in light of the gospel. With Nicodemus who as a Pharisee, he talks with him about the more technical aspects of faith by talking about being born again or born of the Spirit in order to have eternal life. I am sure Nicodemus felt very comfortable talking on that level due to his own knowledge and understanding. Yet he was uncomfortable in that he could not come to grips with it and understand how being born a second time could work. So even though Christ talked with him in his language and based on his circumstances as a spiritual leader, he still challenged him to think in light of faith instead of in light of all he had known.

Then Jesus has his conversation with the Samaritan woman. With her he deals with her past and lays out for her the main issue in her life of trying to find life in men. That was what she needed to help her in her faith. He then goes on to explain what it means to have water that quenches our true thirst. She then goes on to tell others what she heard and saw and that she believed Jesus was the Messiah. In both cases he uses analogies to help people understand complex truths in a way that made sense to the person he was speaking with.

In each case Jesus met people where they were instead of asking them to catch up to where he was. I think about all the ways we have attempted to share the gospel as the church at large. As I sit here right now writing this in 2008, almost 2009, the church at large tends to demand that people catch up to our understanding of the gospel. There are certain things that people have to say or they are not presenting the “true” gospel. It is almost like a secret handshake or some special formula. Any attempt at contextualizing the gospel is met with suspicion or harsh critique and criticism. There is almost the thought that because God’s word is timeless, anyone should be able to understand the truth as it was presented years ago. The problem with this school of thought is first, everyone who does not speak or understand greek has gotten an interpretation of the gospel as every translation is an interpretation. Second, the gospel has been contextualized throughout the life of the church. There is no problem with looking to new analogies to explain the gospel to many who, in our time, have never even cracked the bible or gone to any church. I like the fact that Jesus first started with the person and then explained the gospel in light of who they were. If the gospel is timeless, then it should stand up to the test of the changing language and lives of people. Besides, if the Holy Spirit is the one who does the calling and convicting my role is simply to listen, share, and testify.

Lord, help me to be quick to listen to others and understand their lives so I can share my faith with them. Give me your eyes to see the opportunities to minister to others and allow you to use me however you see fit. Thank you for the example you have given me in your word. Amen.
blog comments powered by Disqus