reload The Race by Maurice McCracken

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Gospel and Community

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 9 comments
So, it's the thing today to emphasise the role of the community in reaching people with the Gospel. Hurrah for that emphasis; it is indeed the church that demonstrates God's wisdom, and it is also the love that we have for each other that makes people know we are Jesus' disciples. I agree with the Bible- big surprise.

However, I see people making a jump here that I'm not sure is in Scripture, and I think, actually, is making us all risk feeling like failures. Yes, it is our love, our community that backs up our witness. But is the unbeliever supposed to like our community (and want to join in?) I'm not sure I see that idea anywehere in the Bible. Should they even want to belong before they believe? Isn't the idea actually more that the unbeliever thinks our community is weird as it's made up of a random group of people who still love each other?

Discussing this with some friends the other night, I was sharing that, for example my housegroup, which is a lovely friendly group of people have been trying this for some time. Lots of emphasis on spending time together, bringing non-Christians along, sharing our lives. Now, not once has someone who isn't a Christian come along and joined our housegroup and thereby become a Christian. Are we doing it wrong? Should we be worried?

I don't think so. Many people have commented and chatted to their Christian friend about our group being friendly, but more than that, how they have found it weird that a group of Christians like us hang out together. To be honest, though, the 22 year old Chinese people who come along probably have no desire to come back and hang out with me, nearing middle aged guy. Why would they? But hopefully the group makes them also wonder why their Christian friend wants to.

The friends I was discussing with agreed that they would be far more likely to invite some non-Christian friends to their house for dinner with similar Christian friends than to their house group social where there would be such a huge range of people they aren't used to, that they would sit in a corner and the inviter would end up talking to them.

In short, are we putting pressure on ourselves by saying our love for each other makes non-Christians want to join our community? Is it, rather, that our love for each other, madly diverse and different as we are is really strange to non-Christians, and almost unattractive in its weirdness? And that is what makes them wonder about where this odd ball community comes from?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Gospel: a good idea

posted by Little Mo | Permalink | 5 comments
This rather thinly veiled attack on apologetics by Glen got me thinking. It didn't quite sit with me and I couldn't work out why.

And then I realised, it is, yet again, all about doctrine of creation. So, the Gospel is not a good idea, a "worldview amongst worldviews" (apparently) it is in a totally different spiritual category: "good news." A spiritual, other-worldly category, totally different from the ideas of this world.

My problem with this is that it is a diminution of the Gospel. Truly the Gospel is more than a good idea. But that doesn't mean it isn't a good idea. It is more than a worldview, but nevertheless it is the best worldview because it is God's very own view of the world. Surely the Gospel appears foolish to us, that does not mean it actually IS foolish!

This idea, that if you can only preach "good news" not the Gospel's worldview, is dependent on the wrong assumption that the Gospel works on us entirely in a different way to any other discussion. God works outside our normal way of thinking, of logic, of relationship to bring us to Jesus, rather like magic words the Gospel "good news" separate from everything else I think, brings me to God. One wonders why it is necessary to use sentences people can understand at all - may as well just insert the words "Jesus is Lord" anywhere into the following collection: pig, sheep, house, car, McDonalds. Sure people won't understand, but an appeal to their understanding is apparently intellectual pelagianism.

No, the Gospel is a message, revealed in words, that through the power of God's Spirit we can be persuaded of and understand. It truly does explain the reality that we see around us. It is much more than a good idea, but it is really a good idea too.