I was involved in a snippet of a conversation recently about the kinds of questions people are asking with regards faith. We often assume that our ‘not-yet-Christian’ or ‘looking-unlikely-ever-to-be-Christian’ friends are asking the profoud spiritual questions that Christians would like them to be asking. The classic set of these questions are typically summed up by the Alpha Course (other courses are available!).
For example: Who was Jesus? Why did Jesus die? Why should I pray? Why should I read my Bible? What about the church? etc etc. These are NOT the questions that I find most people are asking. Rather, they are the questions that the church would LIKE people to be asking because we think we have some answers to those and we fundamentally think that its those sorts of questions that lead to people discovering faith.
I find people asking different sets of questions altogether. Questions like: how can I keep food on my table? How can I spend less time stressing about work and give more time for my family? How do I build in time to keep myself sane in the midst of all this? How can I make sure I don’t screw up my kids for good? How can I be happy, healthy and get by in life?
We can do two things with those questions. Firstly, we can tell people that those are the wrong questions and continue to force the answers to our questions upon an increasingly bored audience. Who wants to spend their lives doing that? Or, Secondly, we can take Jesus approach and speak right to the heart of THEIR questions. Have a look through the gospels and see where Jesus has interactions with people and watch how expertly, sensitively and powerfully he speaks right to the heart of the soul in front of Him.
Jesus gospel was nowhere near as arrogant as ours is. Jesus didn’t assume a certain type of question was being asked. He responded to people’s questions from the centre of who he was and what he had come to do for them at the point at which there was a point of connection.
How does my preaching and teaching, my every day conversations, my ideas about mission and evangelism respond to that stuff? How do you? What does it mean to stop seeing people as scalps to be hunted and rather as human beings with fundamental survival questions and a need for a loving network of relationships to actually get them through life? More than that, if our understanding of Jesus shapes our understanding of mission, how do then those shape how we gather people together in Christian community? Fairly sure its not for a Sunday Morning Jesus Show. I just wonder how seriously we take the call to ‘make disciples’ and if we are willing to accept the implications for the whole ‘Christian’ set up.