Sunday, November 12, 2006

Using Normality For Evangelistic Ends

It is not necessary to be normal to be a faithful evangelist. It is, however, helpful. We are strangers and pilgrims as Christians. We are strange and alien, though, not because of our clothing style but because of our doctrine. This is the way it should be. We are called everywhere in Scripture to be awed. Nowhere in Scripture are we called to be odd.

I covered the importance of normality last week. I'm moving on, and now we're talking about how it's evangelistically expedient to be normal. Have you ever thought of it in those terms? If not, let me try to convince you of this matter. As I said last week, Christians are already weird to those who are not Christians. Our set of beliefs is downright wacky to the outside world. We could care less, of course--we have found Truth, and that is all that matters. We do not strive to conform to intellectual currents, to pander to pagan philosophizing. We take joy in the gospel, the message that is so simple a child can grasp it and so levelling that all have access to it. We don't want exclusivity (in the "cool" sense) or societal status; we want inclusivity and saintly status. With that established, though, we do very much want to connect with those who are not saved. We do so by doing what should and will come very easily if we just let it: being normal, breathing, exfoliating human beings.

It does you no good in your evangelism to have utterly no idea what sports team play where, and what books are famous, and what music is popular. Many Christians seem to take a sort of gleeful pride in being anti-culture and having no idea of what's going on in the world. This is a holdover from fundamentalism. It needs to go. Fundamentalism hung its hat on separation. It took pride in being separated from nearly everything it could. That was good on some points--defending the essentials of the faith, for instance--but really, really bad on the whole cultural tip. There is nothing inherently godly with not knowing where the Suns play or who their best player or what The Fray's big song is. Beyond this, when we're like this, we have basically no "bridges" to the culture. We have nothing to talk about with those we're trying to evangelize. This is a crying shame. Who said this was a good idea? It's a bad idea. We should share the gospel, yes, absolutely, we must, but that won't fill a whole afternoon or a car trip or even a backyard chat while we're grilling. When we evangelize in this way--we share the gospel and have nothing else to say--we portray the Christian faith as a shallow, disinterested, disconnected faith, and it is anything but. The Christian faith is robust and comprehensive. It asks and answers the deepest questions of life, it spots the beauty that speckles the landscape, and it directs us to matters of goodness and hope. When we evangelize, we should display this.

Then, we will not be the only ones who are awed. Or odd. Take your pick--they go hand in hand.


Blogger blake white said...

Good point. I used to pretend to be super-spiritual as a witness to others. Now I sometimes think I am too 'normal' especially in light of 1 Cor 15:19. It's a tough balance.

8:55 PM  
Anonymous Jed said...

Maybe I'm missing something but how is it that knowing who the Suns' best players are shows that the Christian faith "asks and answers the deepest questions of life"? Bill Edgar makes the point that often these sorts of matters are used by people to distract themselves from having to confront ultimate questions (or even from confronting themselves). Schaeffer makes a similar point in the "God who is there." Is there not a basic tension between the two aspects of Christianity that you are presenting (i.e. Christians are to be normal and they are to be concerned with ultimate truths)? And isn't this tension good?

p.s. Knowing who the Phillies best players THAT is being concerned with life's most important matters.

5:28 AM  
Blogger Brian said...

I completely agree. Though, I have no idea if "The Frays" is a group from the '60s, '70s, or today, or if they are even a group???

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To quote Glenn Beck (who is not normal), "Call me crazy, but....", isn't there a part of our makeup as Christians that is supposed to be "abnormal". I find, in my secular employment, that being "normal" can be a hinderance to your witness, especially in my case, when they know, " Oh, that's the preacher!" It's a fine line we ride, and for me, it is a formidable challenge.

While I don't wish to be known as the "weirdo", I do see the value of being, in Biblical vernacular, "set apart". I wnat people to know I am different.

11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, it does help to know the formula for the BCS standings. It gives you a mark of credibility...

11:34 AM  

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