I hope to wrap up these thoughts about how we (as His followers) navigate that line between being culturally relevant (so the bridge to our culture is corrected), but also keep our radically distinct message (a message that isn’t about us but rather attracts people to the giver of real life) so that the bridge becomes stronger and stronger. In order to do these let me start us out with a quote that I believe God put before me recently to give us some shared understanding on that.
“it is a question of growth that can only be met through the humble practices of relating and listening folks into the kingdom, even as we deepen our commitment to authentic Christlikeness.” by Brad Roth (author of the book God’s Country)
Could it be really that simple??!! Could we simply by relating well to folks and through a practice of really listening to people help usher them into the kingdom? I had the privilege to preach at two of the churches I serve this past weekend and the message that I was given to bring to the churches was one that was born out of 3 well known Christian speakers in a youtube table talk bring up one of their major concerns for the church today compared to the church 4 or 5 decades ago. In this table talk that one major difference or concern was that of the practice of faith and presence in our culture today. That is how is the faith of those who follow Jesus Christ truly present outside of our church communities and into the communities that surround those churches?
Presence... both His presence in our lives and then our presence in the world around us is the key component. Not just having our physical body present… but our lives present in a way with others that the power of Jesus Christ who inhabits our lives can be released into others!! This is the activity of our faith. He builds our faith … but not just to be stored up… but to be released.
I have been to many Christian activities and events…. and have seen that power displayed in people’s lives. That power that can only be there because of Him, but all too often what I have felt in these moments is that something is missing. I have wondered how those who don’t know might be impacted by the testimony or story that along with God is that person’s story. It seems all too often the approach of the church has been to talk much (think about many of our evangelistic approaches) to those who don’t know. Whether it is in a big venue or a smaller venue our practice of talking first before really knowing where people are at in their lives… seems to fall most often on deaf ears. But imagine if as our story connected with God continues to be built if we would simply exhibit relational holiness with others that has us listening them into the kingdom!! Can you picture it… can you see the ways to where God may be calling each of us to be praying for those opportunities and getting in!!
I believe in this passage from John 15 we are encouraged in this direction …
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
This is our faith building process!! towards this…
16 “You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
17 “But remember the root command: Love one another.