So a month or so ago, my wife and I went on a date: a very different date, we went to the opening ceremony of the St Louis Scottish Cultural Festival and Games. We kinda like looking into different cultural things. It was interesting to see the focus on genealogy or clans: many traced back centuries or even a millennium.
One focus of the opening night was to re-create the scenario of the calling of the clans for a meeting, again, a centuries old tradition. As each clan representative stepped to the circle they would give some part of the clans stories, many tracing back their origins. As someone who like history and has been fascinated by Scotland, it was interesting and entertaining. But something more dawned on me as I watched, listened and experienced the calling of the clans.
What I noticed about this event was that while I enjoyed it and knowing a little of history, I could grasp some of their stories: it did not move me or “speak” to me like it did to them. Why? Because it was not MY story! I could not see myself in THEIR story, even though historically true, it was not RELEVANT to my story. After all, I’m German: no McSchmaltz or O’Schmaltz clan was visible! So what is the point of this musing?
The point is: the modern church does the same with its presentation of the Good News. The challenge is, while the Gospel is the ONE answer to everyone’s situation, it’s PRESENTATION many times is not. Too many times we present the Gospel in a modern, western, North American get saved and go to heaven scripting: and our audience cannot relate. It doesn’t fit THEIR story.
The context of this presentation is from an era when Christianity was viewed as the dominant thought process of Europe and America: all things were judged in relationship to organized religions dogma. However, things have changed!
Our culture is a kaleidoscope of beliefs and “truths,” that shape the life context or story of each individual. The belief of today is that there is not one truth, but whatever works for you. Each person forms his or her beliefs and values, based on their life experience, which then manifests in a particular lifestyle story.
When presented with new ideas, including the Good News, each individual judge what they hear, based on how it fits into THEIR story. How many times have you heard someone dismiss Truth with a statement like: “That may be fine for them, but…” That in effect, is them saying, it doesn’t make sense to MY story.
So what is to be done? The Good News must be presented in a context that fits their story: in short, it must be lived out in the context of THEIR story. That means we cannot just tell them about Jesus, we must demonstrate him! It is not witnessing so much by our words but by our lifestyle.
This is tough for the average Christian, because it means I must get involved in their lives. I must live in a transparent way, so they see the grace of God working in my life as I deal with the situations of MY story. It is the demo of the gospel in the daily rub of life that proves its reality and begins to give others hope. If others can see it working for me, they may just begin to believe it might work in THEIR story.
Food For Thought
How are you demonstrating the Gospel so they feel it can be a part of THEIR story?
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