Friday, July 25, 2008

a new metaphor?....

So a week or so ago, I talked about the need for a new approach in Evangelism. In talking with a few who are reading NT Wright's book "Surprised by Hope" right now, it came up how things could benefit from a change in regards to how we teach this all to our children. A new story or metaphor or something...

On one hand, I recognize that if my daughter latches onto Jesus because she's afraid of living forever without God (or me, even), it's not a horrible thing. If she decides to "give her life" to Jesus, because of the sacrifice God made when He allowed His Son to die for us, it's not a horrible thing. If she prays a prayer that says something like "Jesus come into my heart", or "I believe Jesus died for me", it's definitely not a horrible thing.

But it's not the main point.

It's significant ONLY as it leads to us being made able to participate in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and being a part of God's making all things new.

But almost ALL of our efforts are found in pushing the "Jesus died for you, so you owe Him something", or "You don't want to burn forever, do you?" methods. We tell our children the story of Jesus (or Veggietale version, or colored book/bracelet, or Romans road), and REALLY REALLY want them to understand/believe that Jesus died for them. We want them to pray the "Sinner's Prayer", and the younger they can say those words...the better, right? Then with a few resources we have left over, we help make them good people and teach how to get along with others, and call it discipleship.

We began to wonder how the Gospel message might be presented in a way that truly captures what Christ was talking about, even to children? Then looking at scriptures, it appears there is. Christ even spoke them.

"BORN AGAIN"
(born anew, born from above, born of water AND Spirit)

When did "Born Again" somehow become saying a certain set of words? When did it become the goal of Christianity itself? Even Jesus said, "no one can _____, without being born again". It wasn't the end, it was part of the process of the revelation of God's reign and rule (His Kingdom).

We've definitely condensed and cheapened what offers to be something much larger. These words have the taste of new creation, and are meant to point us in that direction so much more than simply avoiding hell, or becoming a church statistical figure.

God's reign and rule exists here and now (beginning with the resurrection), though hidden, awaiting the day when it will be fully revealed. When you become "born anew", or "in Christ" (which is ironic, cause we've made it mostly about Jesus being "in me"), you are a new creation in Spirit (2 Cor. 5:17) that will someday become fully revealed physically (1 Cor. 15). You become a part of God's reign and rule becoming present in this world, His Spirit through you...breaking through the veil and transforming the things that are.

We don't "save souls" so that they are saved. We don't "become Christians" so that we can wear the shirts and say "I'm a Christian", and we are not "building an army" to fight in some cosmic battle of Armageddon. We desire to be transformed so that we might be used to reveal God's already existing reign and rule in and to this world, and work towards His making all things new, which will someday be revealed fully.

But how to say all of this to a 6 year old? Like I said earlier, if my daughter comes home from Sunday School and tells me she prayed for Jesus to come into her heart...I'll still be really excited.

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