John Stott relates a haunting conversation he had with two university students, brothers who had rejected the faith of their parents. One was now an agnostic, the other closer to an atheist. John asked why they had given up their faith — Did they no longer believe in the truth of Christianity? No that wasn’t the problem. “Our dilema,” they said, “is not whether Christianity is true, but whether it is relevant.”
A few years ago, Chris Seay, a pastor from Houston had the opportunity to tour the MTV studios at Times Square with a group of young pastors. After they bumped into singer Jewel, veejay Jesse, and rockologist Matt Pinfield, some executives shared that in a recent survey of MTV viewers, 99% said that they believe in God. But how many are involved in a church? Locally at Penn State, it can’t be more than a few thousand out of 40,000+
David Kinnaman recently put out the results of a massive Barna study. The results can be found in a book entitled, “Unchristian.” In it he says that 97% of those in their late teens through early 30’s have a negative view of the evangelical church. Among other things they think we are homophopic, too political, hypocritical, and judgemental — 97%.
We can come up with all sorts of defensive reasons. Sure we get a bad rap when another Jim & Tammy Fay hit the airwaves. Sure some people are just looking for an easy out to save them from the heart work of seeking God. But with all that in mind, it’s still only fair for people outside the church to ask the question of us, “Can you really deliver what I need?” We need to know how skeptical they are of a “yes” answer. We did a “person on the street” interview locally. Take a look at the responses…
It’s not that people don’t want Jesus, they just can’t figure out if we’ve met him. I don’t think it’s a commitment problem, they just don’t want to give their lives to our religion. What they want to know is have you met the Jesus, can you help me find him and is he worth my life?
What we need is more capacity for Christ. We need to become students of Jesus. We need to be so in Christ, that people can find Jesus when they come to us. Paul uses two different locational descriptions of our relationship with Jesus. He talks about “Jesus in us” and he talks about “us in Jesus.” American evangelicals have been primarily drawn to “Jesus in us.” We want to know if you have asked “Jesus to come into your heart.” I have a suspicion that we like that description because then we can keep Jesus compartmentalized. He gets that little spot in our hearts…not even the whole heart. But Paul used the other description more frequently. Paul was shaped by the thought of being “in Jesus,” like Jesus encompassed all of him, everything he did. Jesus surrounded him. He was in Jesus. When we are in Jesus, everywhere we go, people will bump into Jesus.
So the question is… do people bump into Jesus everywhere I go?