What the World Needs
What The World Needs
"As the postmodern mindset saturates our culture, we must adjust our approaches to people in order to persuade them with the eternal gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be listening to their doubts, their questions, and their way of dealing with life issues. At one time we could assume that people believed in the authority and inspiration of Scripture; we cannot assume that today. We can no longer assume people will regard truth as absolute, objective, and unequivocal, i.e., understandable in only one clear way. The privatizing of faith (designing our own religion) and the pluralizing of Christianity (accepting conflicting beliefs) clash violently with the biblical teaching that there is one Lord, one faith and one baptism" (Adrift Postmodernism in the Church, Phil Sanders, p. 201)
People Still Need A Good Conscience
"Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’" (Acts 2:37)
Although people may not want to hear about their sins, each person does still have a conscience. "People remain vitally interested in religion even if they do not know God. People still want to know where they came from, who they are, and where they are going. People still want a purposeful and meaningful life. While the world is caught up in theological relativism, people want some absolutes---even if they do not realize they want absolutes" (Sanders p. 202). Some people after drifting for a while on a sea of certainty (Ephesians 4:14) tire of drifting and wish for something more substantial to hold onto. Yes, to set oneself adrift from moral and spiritual foundations may seem pleasant for a while, but such a sea of uncertainty with all its supposed freedoms also lacks substance and meaning. "Postmodernism has no firm answers or promises for the widow at the cemetery or the person dying of cancer. It cannot point the rebellious youth back to morality. It cannot assure the unborn child a right to life. It gives no hope for repentance because it gives no demand for change. The price of absolute doctrinal and moral freedom, which rids us of God and absolute truth, is far higher than many people realize" (Sanders pp. 202-203). Even people who have cast off moral restraints or truth, still know that they have done wrong. How does such a person obtain forgiveness and peace of mind? The world may tell them they have nothing to worry about, "get over it, everybody does it", but the conscience still bothers them. Assurances from other people cannot bring forgiveness. Casting off moral absolutes still does not solve the problem of guilt. Even people who have lived very worldly lives, still have regrets concerning the past and how they have treated people. As Christians we have the answer that people need for a clear conscience (1 Peter 3:21 "And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ"; Hebrews 10:22 "Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water").
People Need Truth
"In practical terms, life is not lived in a relative world. We do not fully apply the uncertainty of today’s morals and theology to the way we live our practical lives. Bank accounts hold exact amounts of money and not relative figures. A check written on insufficient funds, however close to the actual amount, can have serious consequences. Let a bank forget to include your deposit in its calculations, and you will correct them quickly. You demand fairness when you are cheated. When people go to the shoe store, they learn that just any size shoe will not do. When people go to the pharmacist, they realize that just any drug will not cure their problem. Olympians are often judged by hundredths of a second. While each of them would love a medal, each one knows there is a difference between gold, silver, and bronze. Dialing a number close to being right will not secure a telephone connection to the party we desire. This practical exactness that permeates our lives cannot be ignored. Relative accuracy does not count in the real world" (Sanders p. 203). We must remind people of such points and then point out, how much more do we need accuracy and definite standards in the spiritual realm, for the stakes are much higher than simply dialing the wrong number (Matthew 7:21-23; 2 John 9; Revelation 22:18-19).
It has been argued that the human soul will not be satisfied forever with an endless disconnection to reality. Eventually, some people will demand that they become somebody going somewhere for some reason. Freedom from the truth is not freedom at all. Jesus was right; the truth would make us free (John 8:31-32). "When a person’s rationalizing means he can no longer tell right from wrong, it raises fear and doubt, which often leads to depression: Did I do the right thing? Does it matter anymore? Does anything matter? When each one has his own morality, how can we trust anyone or anything?" (Sanders p. 202) The good news is that some people will hit this wall of despair and then bounce back (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
People Need Morality
Although some people claim moral freedom, they cannot live their lives without some rules, some laws, and some values. They are not willing to grant anyone the freedom to prey upon their children, to steal from them, to hurt their friends, or to sleep with their spouses. "Their resolute desire for life without foundations breaks down when they themselves become the victim of an evil. All of a sudden the freedom they so longed for is not so attractive! Indeed, it is frightening!" (Sanders p. 203)
It is frightening because you realize that someone could inflict tremendous suffering and pain upon you. The moral boundaries that you spent so much time ridiculing and tearing down, someone just might come over across that former boundary, someone might just walk through the loophole that you created and do something to you! (2 Timothy 3:2-4). People need to be reminded that they have to live in the world for which they are arguing. It is selfish to speculate and philosophize concerning a world in which there are no rules, and then to leave the classroom to benefit from the safety, comforts, and orderliness of a society in which there are rules (Romans 13:3). It is frightening because you feel that you cannot trust anyone. How terrible to be in a relationship in which you cannot trust your husband, wife, parents, or children. We can point to the true nature of evil by showing people the after effects of such evil. Adultery loses its luster when you watch the spouse that is left struggling to put their lives back together and struggling to parent and support the children that are abandoned. Divorce really looks unattractive when former mates shuttle the children between them for visits. Some people might simply have to be on the receiving end of some type of evil in order to learn the lesson of abhorring it (Romans 12:9). We need to connect with people and persuade of them of obvious, that God’s rules are for their benefit (1 Peter 3:10-12).
People Need Hope
"Another connecting point is in the reality of death. There is certainty about our eventual demise; no one can live on this earth forever. Christians must sometimes look their neighbors in the eye and remind them of their own mortality" (Sanders p. 204). Yes, eventually everyone dies (Hebrews 9:27), and no man can stop this process. The good news is that death does not have to be a tragedy or something to dread. There exists a glorious future beyond this life for those who follow Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:4). Yet, the only way that a person can have such a confident hope is to be convinced that Jesus Christ is indeed the Savior of the world (2 Timothy 4:8). Jesus Christ is indeed different from the other religious leaders such as Mohammed, Buddha, Confucius, or Joseph Smith. They simply do not have behind them the objective, historical evidence that Jesus Christ has. No one has ever died for our sins but Jesus Christ. Only the tomb of Jesus Christ is empty. There is a real difference. He alone performed miraculous wonders, which even His enemies admitted (John 11:47). He alone is the fulfillment of over some 300 Old Testament prophecies. He alone gave mankind the highest moral standard known to man. He alone claimed to be God and backed it up with proof (John 5:18-23). When I look again at the above paragraph I am impressed with how clear God has made the truth. Jesus stands out all by Himself as the Savior of the human race.
People Need Faith
The idea that we cannot know anything for sure, may be a convenient excuse so that you can go off and do something for a while without feeling immediately guilty, but eventually this will come back to haunt us. "Nothing is ever settled because no one can know the truth.There can be no convictions because as soon as a person speaks out, he must take it back" (Sanders p. 205). To say that there is no truth or that we can know nothing for sure means that whatever we have to say is completely meaningless. If what you say is meaningless, then for all practical purposes your thoughts and life are just as meaningless. How many people really want to live in a world that screams back at us, "I don’t have to listen to anything you say". In addition, what kind of people will we become if there is nothing to believe in? Today people desperately need the faith that the Bible is understandable (Ephesians 3:3-5), that we can have unity based on Biblical teachings(Ephesians 4:4-6), that we can be see things alike and thereby work and worship together and save the lost (Ephesians 4:11-16).
In recently reading Psalm 119, I was impressed with the faith of the writer. Instead of reminding us of all the reasons that the world gives why it is so unreasonable to expect of young man or anyone else to remain pure (Psalm 119:9), the writer gives a simple answer. The same is true concerning how a person can resist temptation (119:11). If these explanations or answers seem "too simple" or naïve, then we have lost true faith in God. The faith that the world needs, and we need, is an absolute trust in God, an unquestioned loyalty, the type of faith that we had in our parents when we were little, that mom and dad could do no wrong and were always right, the type of faith that believed mom and dad over all other voices, the type of faith that so earnestly wanted to please them. We need to recapture this faith(Matthew 18:1-3; Psalm 119:128,160).
We also need faith in the body of Christ, the church, the kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). Sanders notes that some people, infected by the spirit of this age, feel that the church of Christ cannot survive without their expertise and guidance. It never occurs to them that the church as survived thousands of years through a wide variety of cultural changes and all this without his or her guidance. We can be sure that the church will not only survive the onslaught of our culture, but will actually last longer than the fads and innovations of our time (Daniel 2:44). Added to this, let us remember that we do not face a more serious threat to our faith than did Christians in other centuries. "We should not think that this is the first generation to be intolerant of intolerance. The church of the first three centuries encountered an incredible prejudice because they believed in one God. The world has hardly ever tolerated the kind of conviction in one God the early Christians displayed" (Sanders pp. 229-230).
People Need Love
Just observe our society for a little while and you will notice a definite absence of true love. Such a lack of kindness, forgiveness, self-control, other-thoughtfulness, good manners, patience, and a genuine interest for the welfare of another. Who better to teach people the meaning and reality of true love than the people who have actually experienced it? (1 John 4:10-11)
Mark Dunagan/Beaverton Church of Christ/503-644-9017