Engaging Culture

Convincing Modern Man He Needs to Change

There was a time when sharing your faith with someone else was pretty easy to do. For centuries it was called “good news” and was a liberating message for millions of people. But then, most people in the culture had a similar worldview, and even if you didn’t believe in God, most people shared similar values and ideals. Even as late as the 50’s and 60’s my dad was a pastor in Charlotte, North Carolina, and people who would never darken the door of a church still respected him. But not so today.

We’ve discovered that modernism hasn’t led to secularism, it’s lead to pluralism.While mainstream media is still trying to convince us that God is dead, and the shrill voices of atheism sell lots of books, the research indicates that God is still very much alive.The problem today is, everyone has a different idea of god’s identity.

As a result, sharing the Christian faith isn’t the liberating message it once was because our worldviews have splintered into many, many pieces. Writer C.S. Lewis captured it when he said that:

“When the apostles preached, they could assume even in their Pagan hearers a real consciousness of deserving the divine anger… It was against this background that the gospel appeared as good news. It brought news of possible healing to men who knew they were mortally ill. But all this has changed. Christianity now has to preach the diagnosis – in itself very bad news – before it can win a hearing for the cure.”

That’s the dilemma. How do you share a cure with someone who insists he’s perfectly fine?

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  1. VERY intriguing post

    I see successful politicians (see: our current President) as MASTERS of this craft.    Best example: Universal Health Care.  As you have previously stated, Phil, ours is the best system in the world (albeit flawed like everything else)…but many politicians, led by Mr. Obama, have convinced the masses otherwise.

    Interesting note here, though…we’re too lazy to really research why.

    By the way…I’m not suggesting this is the path we should take in sharing our faith.  Leads to only surface results and MORE problems down the road (backsliding baby Christians with little follow-through by those that have gotten them to say yes to Christ).



  2. This is definitely one of the greatest challenges I have had in my life with friends, etc.

    It’s similar to The Matrix – is this person who insists that he’s perfectly fine willing to take the red pill? 

    Even in the movie The Incredibles, there was a man that did not want to be saved from his suicide attempt – as a result, the hero that intercepted his fall (Mr. Incredible) was accused for “saving” him.

    It’s often a (relatively small) window in time — when *not* everything is fine — when we realize that there is something more: that there is a problem; there is a diagnosis; there is a cure.

    And some will still end up taking the blue pill.


  3. How About:  Convincing the go-along-get-along broadcast church… IT needs to change!

    Country western singer Waylon Jennings wrote, “Lord, it’s the same old tune, fiddle and guitar.  Where do we take it from here?…It’s been the same way for years.  We need a change.”  Many television preachers teach rule-based tithing, rapture, eternal security, dispensational dogma, the imminent return of Just-Fix-Everything-Instantly-Jesus (their own miscreant selves excluded, of course!) and that the only prophet is an entertaining one.  Such prophets could not get even a dog that wet the carpet to show remorse.  Yet the Church itself is neither housebroken nor repentant enough for God to indwell at sufficient levels.  In truth, there is no rapture, no eternal security and Jesus comes quickly in the prepared-for-Him-inside now.  Giving must be rhema-based not percentage rule-based.  The Church’s end-times dispensational doctrine is a colossally wrong misdirection and poorly prepares the Church, much less the world, for tomorrow’s troubles.  Tribulations come with opportunity to be sanctified because hard circumstances penetrate a soul’s stupor.  Only when the Church teaches the disciplines required to worship God in spirit and truth and then hear and obey Christ’s rhema voice will the Church be equal to tomorrow’s emergencies, opportunities and potential revivals.  TV preachers rake in millions of dollars in sales by pandering fear, greed and giddiness to sheep worldwide.  This, despite occasional rebel critics who, to paraphrase Jennings, ask, “Are you sure Christ done it this way?”  Truly, the Church has missed it by a mile.  Ministries will have to massively repent of wickedly hanging on to wrong doctrines, which make them unable to manifest Christ themselves, and for their brazen audacity in hawking their worldly antichrist opinions like voracious whores.  Why should God’s people buy Satan’s doctrines from the Church?  Church leaders, wash the inside of the cup.  Church leaders, die to self.  Church leaders, stop extracting dollars unrighteously.  Church leaders, stop flailing at the world with a scabbard of puerile doctrines, and pick up Christ’s two-edged sword of spirit and truth.  And use that sword against your wrong beliefs and your wrong spirits.  And then publicly repent of your misdeeds of proclaiming truth that was not truth and being of a spirit that was not of God.  The world will see you become more and more as God’s very truth and even as God’s very spirit.  And then, verily verily the Lord God Almighty says unto you, you will see true revival.

  4. I am not sure I am with you on this one Phil. Seems to me there were lots of groups in Jesus’ time who thought they had the way to heaven too. He had to convince the modern day Jew that their faith was incomplete and the pagan that theirs was empty.

    But Paul didn’t go about that by inviting people to come to his church. He went to them. Why do we think that people are going to come to us? We’re supposed to be the fisherman, and I certainly don’t expect fish to come knocking at my door.

    I think our problem is that the church is trying just a little to hard to not look “wierd” and as a result, we blend in so much that people can’t see a difference in our lives anymore. We blend in so well that Christ looks like “just another way” to get to heaven.

    Now I don’t advocate a radical, “weirdo” lifestyle either, eventhough that was pretty effective for John the Baptist. What I do think we need to do is start questioning the basis for some of these secular values and get people thinking about the inadequacies in their own belief systems. When Paul went to the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17), he didn’t attack the myriads of Gods that he found there. He found the weakness in the belief system (the Unknown God) and started from there. How many times do we question the athiest about the purposelessness of his life? How many times do we question our co-workers about the values of accumulating the most money before we die?

    I think we have to get our culture thinking about what the real implications of their belief system are. No one is doiing that right now so think they are secure. Once they begin to see the holes in their beliefs, they will start seeking the truth. That’s when we need to be ready with the cure. Trying to convince even a sick man that he needs a remedy when he doesn’t feel sick is a pretty tough job.

  5. There is another side to this question.  How do we convince the church to change?  We will never be relevant to the culture around us as long as racism – the cancerous elephant in the room – parades before the altar Sunday after Sunday as we experience the most segregated hour of the week.

    You’re the “brand” guy Phil.  You know that your brand is much more about how you are perceived by others than how you perceive yourself.  Do the secularists, modernists, humanists and pluralists see a world where the sanctity of marriage and abortion are the biggest problems we face and see us as solutions to these problems?  Or do they see racism as as our biggest challenge that we can barely manage to talk about in churches that remain even more segragated than the neighborhoods that surround them?

    In Relevation (a book that is much more about image than escotology) the Apostle John describes every “nation, tribe and tongue” surrounding the throne room of God (Rev. 7:9).  When churches start looking like this, and start leading the racial dialog this country so desparately needs, we’ll be correctly perceived as a real solution rather than part of a problem.

  6. It’s true that modern man doesn’t have the same sense of being a sinner, and as Phil said, “deserving the divine anger.”  But the inability of Christians to speak about both God and sin with depth is partially responsible for the fact that we cannot get a hearing with modern man. 

    We’ve often projected that God’s angry side is His only side, and we’ve definitely communicated that sin is just breaking God’s somewhat arbitrary rules, rather than seeking to “find life” on our own and thereby miss the glorious living we were in fact made for.

    People ARE spiritually hungry.  As in every generation, Christians today have to discern how to shape the articulation of the message of new life for the time and place in which they find themselves.  The people in our time and place are looking at the shallow caricatures of God we have painted and thinking, “No, I don’t think that’s it.”  Maybe it’s our faith that needs deepening?

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