Merely a Suggestion
Devotional Tidbit – March 22, 2005
When I was young, one of my favorite Bible verses was John 3:16. Not until twenty-five years later did I even know what was said in the following verse. I now see that John 3:17 is probably more popular among our younger generations than John 3:16. The reason for this, is because it fits a popular worldview today. This worldview is one of tolerance and political correctness. As I stated last week, there is a problem that needs to be fixed. No one wants to be told that the only way to get to heaven is through Jesus. Saying that there is only one way to get to any location (especially heaven) is now considered intolerant and shallow minded.
A generation or two ago, the words of Jesus Loves Me were sometimes enough to convince someone to become a Christian. That is no longer the case. This generation is not falling in line behind Jesus, ready to follow, because someone tells them that Jesus loves them. There are teens, young adults, even older adults now talking back to the church, yelling at God. If the congregation you attend is doing the same things as they always have, and their attendance and spiritual growth of the congregation is declining, don’t expect to get a different result. I once heard a definition of insanity as, “doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results.”
In doing things different, I do not mean singing different songs; although in certain locations it might be helpful to add a song from the late 20th century to the repertoire. What I am really speaking about is connecting with people, making God real for this generation, being a serving and sincere Christian to those around you. This new generation wants to see sincere Christianity, or relationship oriented Christianity.
People are tired of being judged. John 3:17 says this about our savior, “God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world guilty, but to save the world through him (NCV).” Jesus’ job was not just to judge, but to save. There are generations itching for Jesus today, but they don’t want the condemnation that often comes with church attendance. This doesn’t mean not calling a sin a sin. But it does mean loving both types of people on the front pew, the 50 year old lady with pierced ears, and the 17 year old girl with a pierced nose, eyebrows, or tongue. Instead of judging who a person is by their piercings, we should rejoice in the savior they have in common, the savior of this world who suffered his own piercings. *
People are not the same today as they used to be. We need to take this into account or we may lose an entire generation. Small groups where people can connect, dynamic young adult classes, more life application in our sermons, and sincere long lasting friendships are a must in the church of today.
We can never change the gospel of Christ. We shall never stop preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified. But we must get back to the bedrock of the 1st century church. The church of the 1st century was one centered on relationships and fellowship (Ac.2:42-47); mentoring leadership (2 Tim 2:2) , and love (I Jn 3:11; Col. 3:14) . It was in the context of these aspects, that the message of Christ was spread throughout the world.
* A paraphrase of Prof. Randy Harris, Feb. 25, 2005 keynote lecture at ACU lectures.