Here are a few thoughts on leading people from where they are (much concern about social issues, many questions about life’s meaning, purpose and direction) to the place to which the Lord is leading them (faith in Jesus Christ as their Saviour).
It’s often said that people no longer understand Biblical and theological language. What are we to do about this? Are we to “demythologize” the Christian message? Can we share the Good News if we are dismissive of the facts on which the Gospel is based – “Christ died for our sins” and was “raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)? By focusing on words such as suffering, social justice and mystery, we may find points of contact with people’s experience. This may lead to wide-ranging discussion of issues that are of general interest to people who might describe themselves as humanists. At what point do we speak of Christ? Sometimes, when we speak of dialogue, it can end up in a rambling type of discussion which never really gets very near to focusing attention on the Jesus Christ of the Bible. He always has more to say to us than simply calling us to love our neighbour. When we get people’s attention, what are we to say to them? If we are to get their attention for Jesus Christ, we must surely seek to move beyond a conversation about social issues. It’s often said that our theology should be an “answering theology.” We are to engage with the questions people are asking. Recognizing the importance of this approach, we should be aware of the danger that our theology can end up becoming a “questioning theology.” When we end up saying things like, “We have more questions than answers”, are we not losing the simplicity of the Gospel which tells us of God’s Answer to the problem of human sin? We don’t need to have “all the answers to all the questions”, but we can point to “Christ Jesus who came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). “The courage to doubt” may help us to acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers. It is only the courage of faith that will enable us to confess Christ as our Saviour and call upon others to trust in Him.