QUADRIVIUM

Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Thoughts on “The Beginning is Near”

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I have a friend who, in a greater display of boldness than I am capable of, tries to share his faith with at least one person on the bus each say.  That’s quite a feat.  When I ride the bus, I keep to myself—I read, I stare out the window, and I will not speak until spoken to. 

My friend told me this week that he had an encounter with one of these people with whom he shared his faith, and that it changed his entire perspective.  The man told him that he could understand what my friend was offering; he could see that Jesus loved him and that he needed that kind of love.  What drove him away was that he did not believe my friend really loved him.  He said that he could not believe it unless he could see how it had changed my friend’s life first. 

Evangelism sits in tension between two ideals: conviction and relationship.   In the videoThe Beginning is Near—we see both ends of the dichotomy placed side by side, and we are given a clear victor. 

The church spends much of its time fostering a sense of imminent doom.  You won’t find many pastors on street corners condemning people as they walk by, but the desperate plea for the reversal of our immoral culture hits many of the same notes.  “Just look at this,” we say, “it’s getting worse all the time.”  We react much like the first fellow does in the video.  And we shake our heads when people return to the bottle. 

In my very limited experience, a desire for real change finds strong rooting in a firm sense of hope.  For instance, I used to struggle with severe depression.  The motivation to seek healing came during a seminar I attended where one of the men stood to give a testimony of how his life had changed in recent years.  He talked about how he always felt oppressed and uncertain; he had alienated his wife and his kids, and lived in a constant state of deep morose.  Then he told us about the healing that had taken place in his life; he had become a good husband, at home with himself, and secure in his sense of worth and calling.  And I found myself wishing I was as lucky as he. 

I am reminded of that scene in The Shawshank Redemption just after Andy Dufresne is released from solitary for playing Mozart over the prison PA system.  What do you need with Mozart in a place like this? one of the inmates asks.  Here is where you need it the most, Andy says.  You need it to remind yourself that there are places in the world that aren’t made of stone. 

Many of our efforts of evangelism have left people trapped inside the stone walls of their inner prison cells with our message that The End is Near.  We have neglected to deliver the message of rescue, and forgotten to allow the space for that hope to prove evident within ourselves. 

Much of this, I suppose, depends on perspective.  Yes, the culture is awash in the exploitation and glamorization of various sordid affairs, and this is not, by any means, a good thing.  Our first instinct is to react rather than relate. 

Yet, within all this mess, if you look close enough, you can find a piece reaching out, aware of some unnamable need.  Tyler Durden even gave it a voice—“We’re the middle children of history, man.  No purpose or place.  We have no Great War.  No Great Depression.  Our Great War’s a spiritual war…our Great Depression is our lives.” 

People want hope.  Hope is something Christ offers in limitless provision, and if we were a true testament to this hope, the world would look much different. 

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Written by taj

June 29, 2007 at 12:00 pm

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