“I’M GLAD IT WORKS FOR YOU”
BY COMMON GROUND
Jim had been praying for an opportunity to share his faith with his old roommate Tony. Tony’s frustrating work situation seemed to be the perfect opportunity to share the difference a relationship with Christ can make. After sharing his testimony, Jim anxiously waited for some sign of interest from Tony. Instead, all Jim received was a bewildered look and an indifferent reply.
“That’s great, Jim. I’m glad your religion works for you. But I’m just not a religious person.” Inside Jim groaned. This is what his friends usually said when he talked about his faith. In some respects it was worse than ridicule. They made him feel as if his faith was irrelevant to the “real world” and the problems and issues of their lives.
This is a response many of us get when we try to share our faith with our friends. “It works for you” reflects the way most people approach religious truth today. Our culture has been on a rapid, uninterrupted slide towards secularism for the last 100 years. Secularism simply means living your life without God as a point of reference. Many in our culture have left God out of the picture in their worldview, which is the mental grid through which people look at life and order their lives. While people rarely discuss or even define their worldviews, everyone has one, for without it they could not make sense out of life. Fundamental to this current, secular worldview are three philosophies that seriously undermine a life of faith. These are pluralism, rationalism. and privatism. In what follows we will attempt to briefly define these philosophies and offer a short response.
Hopefully, this will serve as a starting point for understanding the modern mindset.
Through television and other modern technologies, the world has become a much smaller place. People are exposed to more world religions and cultures than ever before. Because of this, many have developed a supermarket view of religion. Most people believe all religions are the same, so all anyone needs to do is pick the brand they like the best. It doesn’t matter what you believe, the saying goes, as long as you believe in something.
While this attitude may help people make sense of different religions, it completely ignores the issue of truth. The problem with pluralism is that it ignores the simple fact that all religions do not say the same thing. In fact, Christianity is radically different from other world religions. Every other religion puts a relationship with God on a performance basis. if we perform we are accepted. If we do not perform we are rejected. The biblical view is that Christ offers acceptance with God as a free gift. We do not have to perform to obtain it. All we have to do is receive it by faith.
Science and the scientific process have become gods in our culture. We have become research junkies. If we cannot measure or quantify something, we hardly know what to do with it. This is because our culture believes the human mind and human reason are capable of solving every problem. As a result, we have become increasingly pragmatic in the way we think about religion. Since humans cannot quantify
spiritual things, they are dismissed as unimportant to the “real world.” It no longer matters, our culture says, if your religion is true, only that it solves your problems or makes you feel better.
Unfortunately, some things may solve your problems right now, but have devastating effects in the end. Putting a bandage over a wound may stop the bleeding, but it is no guarantee that you will be healed. The same is true of religion. All religions may “work” to some degree or another for awhile. But Christianity doesn’t necessarily promise to solve people’s everyday problems, it claims to be able to solve our biggest problems, sin and death. It claims to be the absolute truth about eternal life and death. This means that ultimately, if it’s not the truth, it will not work. It’s important that we tell our friends that our faith is more than just something we go to in times of crisis, it’s the truth about God, man and eternal life.
Finally, there is a strong urge in our culture to maintain the distinction between our public and private lives. What we do and believe behind closed doors is a personal thing. This makes it exceedingly difficult to witness to people. Everyone looks at religion as a private matter, and so they are very uncomfortable sharing what they believe with other people. And, unfortunately, even Christians are influenced by this kind of thinking.
This is probably the most difficult barrier to overcome. It is not overcome by debating others, but by loving them. The best response to this barrier is relationships. As people become more isolated and
unwilling to discuss their beliefs, allowing them to see Christ in us will become more important. By allowing others to see Christ in us, we will naturally open doors for the gospel. This will take hard work,
patience and initiative, but it will be the last link in effective outreach. Remember, there is no impact without contact.
The Great Commission makes it clear that we have a job to do. We are to reach everyone with the gospel. As Jim found out, this can be a frustrating task. Pluralism, rationalism, and privatism are difficult
obstacles. But remember, we serve the one true God. We should be driven now, more than ever, to dependence on Him, so that we can be salt and light in a lost and needy world.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY SEARCH MINISTRIES INC., JULY 1995.
THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.