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Preaching an Objective Message in a Subjective Culture

I confess. I went to see Avatar. In 3D. Since then I’ve seen Narnia in 3D, and was transfixed to discover that now you can buy TVs which transmit in 3D.  I’m not sure I can personally imagine sitting in my living room watching a small screen with oversize 3D specs perched on my nose, but technology can do strange things to us all.

When we think about following Jesus today we are aware that our culture’s attitude to truth has changed. No longer do we live in a time when people assume there is one truth about important matters, and our human task is to find that truth and live in its light. Instead, the common idea is that there are multiple ‘truths’. Truth is relative, it is a matter of opinion, it is in the eye of the beholder like beauty (so-called).

As a Christian, or someone who is encouraged to follow Jesus, we may feel like we are putting on our faith 3D glasses. We adopt a certain perspective on life that makes things look better. They come alive.  They have a sharper focus.  And it is our preference. We are looking at life through faith (3D) lenses.

But what if the reverse were true? What if instead of living by faith being like putting on glasses to look at life, living by faith is taking off the blinkers? What if, in our natural human selves, we are at least a little more like Plato’s cave, where we are merely looking at the shadows formed on the wall, and the great light is behind us, which we have to turn around to face?  Or to put in biblical, and better, terms, what if actually living by faith in Jesus was seeing (instead of being blind) hearing (instead of being deaf).

If this is the truth (capital ‘T’), then following Jesus is not a matter of perspective, or opinion, but a matter of seeing things as they are really are. Any other perspective on life is like being the captain of our own personal Titanic and refusing to believe that there is an iceberg ahead.

This seems to be more how the Bible looks at it. It is uncomfortable to think that without faith in Christ I am blind, but no less an authority than Jesus seems to clearly suggest that is the case (John 9:39).

Or if you look at Paul’s advise towards the end of his letter to the Colossians. In Colossians 4:2-6 he gives some very practical, and extremely helpful, counsel about how to be a witness without being an offense. “Conduct yourself wisely toward outsiders.” “Let your speech always be grace, seasoned with salt.” Paul is saying that we are to pray for opportunities, pray for those who preach the gospel to preach it clearly, and then make the most of opportunities (instead of forcing opportunities).  And to do so with winsomeness and insight (‘salt’ is used in secular Greek even for ‘wit’).

No Other Gospel

Josh Moody

Stemming from a series of sermons delivered at his church, pastor Josh Moody presents the gospel of justification by faith alone, as proclaimed in Galatians. He examines thirty-one reasons Paul gives for this gospel.

This is very helpful. But it begs the question why? And that question is not answered, and there is no motivation to reach out, unless we have the entire perspective of that letter.  And that ‘perspective’ is God’s perspective, which is the Supremacy of Christ.  Unless we see (Colossians 1) that Christ is the head of all things, and realize that He is the judge, and the Lord, and it is only through Him that salvation comes – unless we see Jesus not as the patronizing caricature of the really very nice man, but as the God-incarnate crucified Son of God that he was – unless we have that divine perspective we won’t even want to follow the practical advice of Colossians 4:2-6.

So, really, everything has changed in our more subjective, relativistic, world. But what has actually changed is that now we are living in a society that in some ways is far more like biblical society, or the society that the Bible writers were reaching out to with the gospel. Theirs was a culture of many ‘gods’ not one God, with many opinions and viewpoints, not one metanarrative, and as such the practical advice of Colossians 4 and the divine perspective of Colossians 1 are exactly what we need – perhaps as never before since they were first written.

So how do you believe and encourage others to believe in the Christian gospel in a more subjective age, where truth is a matter of opinion?  You take courage from the fact that that kind of age is similar to the time which saw the greatest expansion of the church: its first century or two. And we follow their approach. Which is to preach Christ crucified as Lord of all.

Learn more about No Other Gospel by Josh Moody.

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