It’s a real challenge to reach our culture today. In my 35+ years of ministry, I have never seen greater Bible illiteracy.
There was a time when you could assume most people had a general idea of the Bible. If you were talking with someone and made a reference to Adam and Eve, the Garden of Eden, Noah and his ark, or even Jesus Christ, they would have a sense of what or who you were referring to.
Not anymore. People are largely oblivious to the Bible, not only as God’s Word but even as great literature. The obsession of some to implement the “separation of church and state” has contributed to this illiteracy concerning God’s Word.
When I present the gospel today — especially to young people — I can no longer assume that they understand what I mean when I say something along the lines of, “You need to repent of your sin and put your faith in Jesus and become His disciple!” They might wonder what it means to repent, or even what sin is.
Our challenge as believers in reaching this post-modern generation is to make sense without compromising our message.
By the way, I think way too much is made of the whole modern/post-modern generational issue. There are some valid things to know about each group, but let’s not forget that the essential gospel message does not change. The gospel that the apostles delivered in the first century still resonates with the twenty-first century.
But we still need to adapt and become, as Paul said, “all things to all men.” Paul said:
I have become a servant of everyone so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Jews, I became one of them so that I can bring them to Christ. When I am with the Gentiles who do not have the Jewish law, I fit in with them as much as I can. In this way I gain their confidence and bring them to Christ. Yes , I try to find common ground with everyone so that I might bring them to Christ. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23)
Note that Paul says, “I fit in with them as much as I can.” There is a place to draw the line when you are around nonbelievers. We want to be careful to try to influence them more than they are influencing us.
Sometimes, in an attempt to “relate” to nonbelievers, Christians will make unnecessary compromises. Listen, if you become too much like them, they will never want to become like you. Let’s reach people, but let’s also stand our ground and hold to our principles as followers of Jesus.
Some may want to rationalize compromise in their life as a Christian by protesting, “Well, Jesus hung around sinners!” That is not really true. Jesus did not “hang around sinners,” for the most part. Actually, He “hung around” his disciples when He was not teaching.
When Jesus was with sinners who were separated from God, they did not stay that way for long.
He confronted the woman at the well about her sin. Sure, He loved her, but he pointed out she was living in sin with a man at present. She also came to faith after that.
Yes, Jesus forgave the woman caught in adultery, but it was only after she called Him “Lord.” Even then, He said to her, “Go, and sin no more...”
When he went into the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus, the little guy emerged transformed.So, let’s work on building a bridge to our lost world, not burning one. At the same time, let’s not lower our standards in order to extend our reach.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!