This post contains a short video at the bottom to help demonstrate the principles suggested below.
Over the last few years of my faith I have slowly sensed God place a hunger and drive inside my soul for evangelism. Nearly every week, a team from our Church heads out and hits the streets of Chicago to engage in spiritual conversations with whomever the Lord directs us to. These conversations have been rich and engaging. Perhaps the most common issue I have seen among people in our city, is the lack of knowledge they possess about the actual claims of Scripture. Certainly there are those who know the claims of Scripture and have made actual decisions to reject those claims. But just as often as I come across those people, I also come across those who are claiming to have some kind of “Christian faith” but who are deeply confused over the most fundamental claims of Jesus.
Was Jesus just a man, or was He God in the flesh? What is the meaning of His death and resurrection? How does a person get right with God? What is Christian basis for morality? What is the purpose of my existence? What is Jesus doing in the world right now? What is the purpose of the Church in God’s plan for humanity? What is the Bible? Can the Bible be fully trusted?
These questions are not seminary level questions. To be honest, they are questions my five and seven year old daughters have nearly fully functional robust responses to as a result of intentional discipleship and the use of a Catechism. If you were to ask my five year old daughters, “Why was it necessary for Christ, the Redeemer, to die?” They would respond with, “Christ died willingly in our place to deliver us from the power and penalty of sin and bring us back to God.” Or if you were to ask them the question, “Will God allow our disobedience and idolatry to go unpunished?” They would respond with, “No, God is righteously angry with our sins and will punish them both in this life, and in the life to come.” (Thank you New City Catechism). Unfortunately when I ask this same question to most men and women who claim to be “Christian,” the responses I get sound something like this, “I’m not sure what the purpose of Christ’s death was,” or “I don’t think there is really a definition of sin.“
The reality is that we are living in an increasingly post-Christian society. The statistics show there are growing numbers of individuals leaving the Church (though I believe things are about to swing drastically the other way as we watch the empty philosophies of the world literally collapse upon themselves!). I am convinced that a number of the reasons so many have left and are leaving Christianity in the West are related to the Church’s self inflicted wounds. We have so watered down the message of Christ & the Gospel of the Kingdom that many who have grown up in the Church, don’t actually know the basic claims of the Church. We have so failed to educate Christians with the actual claims of Jesus and the strength of Scripture to not only defend their faith to understand why the Christian faith is a impenetrable bulwark of logic and coherency. As a result, many have been raised to believe in a caricature of Jesus Christ. This caricature is unable to respond to their most basic and pressing questions about life, the soul, relationships, society, government, and the very real problem of evil in the world. Paul says:
“For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”2 Corinthians 11:4, ESV
Even during the days of the Apostle Paul, there were false claims of Jesus floating throughout society. And Christians in his day were tempted to abandon the Real Jesus as Scripture declares Him to be, and accept in its place a false caricature of Jesus that is incompatible with the Bible. Paul’s great concern in 2 Corinthians 11:4 was that the Christians didn’t seem to care enough about this reality to correct the false views and to not only educate Christians on the right views, but to also set the record straight.
Church – I am convinced that the only worldview that has any merit to build a life upon, and to structure a society upon, is the Biblical worldview. Every other worldview collapses in on itself with even the slightest interrogation. A ‘Caricature-of-Jesus Worldview’ is unsustainable which is why so many are walking away from it. But the real Jesus, as He truly is, is not so easy to walk away from. My encouragement in this post is to take opportunities when they present themselves to correct false understandings of Christ. “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).
In the video below I offer a short two minute glimpse into a conversation I had with a young man a few months back in Chicago. I pray these videos I post occasionally serve to strengthen the Church and lead us towards a more bold, courageous, Biblical Christianity.