Friday, December 09, 2005

Formula or Falling in Love?

Is becoming a Christ-follower more like following a formula or falling in love?

Two very strong currents are running through the ocean of what was once known as evangelical Christianity. They diverge at the point of how we relate to God, how that relationship begins and is continued. Some move in the direction of formulas. Life lived in trusting faith has been stated in terms of a contract. Others move in the direction of falling in love. Life lived in faith has been stated through the nearest analogy among humanity: wedded love.

You can recognize you are flowing in the first current when you think of or talk to others about becoming a Christ-follower as a salesman might talk to a prospective consumer about a product. You think/talk of the benefits of Christ-following. You minimize the costs by spreading it out over time or correcting common myths about how much the bottom lilne really is. And of course, the cost-benefit analysis falls on the side of accepting the offer now. You think/talk about the steps that assure reception of the gift of salvation today and guarantee the prospect will not miss out on this time-limited offer. You focus on closing the deal and getting a commitment now. You overcome obstacles to closing the deal with counter measures. Words like leads, prospects, plans and numbers season every conversation with other Christ-followers about the pre-Christians around you.

This current is narrow but swift. Those who are moving through life without God are pulled into this way of thinking by the sheer rush of motion and activity. Beginning with Jesus this way does provide a clear closing or commitment point of reference. Much work has been done to clarify and simplify and package this approach to sharing the invitation to Christ-following.

Being narrow, this wave of evangelism passes some by. Either people accept our presentation or they don't. We even say this is our only responsibility: to present. The rest is the work of God and the choice of the individual. People degenerate into objects. Little consideration is given to the person' sitz en liben (situation in life.) It can become very impersonal and dehumanizing. If a person rejects the presented offer, most will move on to other, more receptive leads...

For more on this discussion, check back next week...

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