Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Eternal truth, relevant delivery

Things change. This world changes, the culture changes, the weather changes, governments change and the way we live our life changes. Change is inevitable. It will happen. As technology advances and life becomes easier, we as a human race change. As knowledge increases, so we lose our sense of wonder. More on that last point later.

As this world changes, our whole way of life changes and the more we become aware of the world around us, then we as a people change. The way we learn changes, the way we do life changes. Our stories change. The life of someone 50 years ago in the UK would be very different from that of anyone living here today.

One truth remains. Jesus. That truth never changes. The fundamental truth that Jesus is the risen Son of God who died and rose again for our sin. The only way to the Father. The way, the truth and the life. He and His teachings remain true.

However, the way we learn them and live them out has to change. If Jesus were here today, I doubt He would have used the same parables as He did 2000 years ago. He told stories using cultural metaphors that people could relate to at the time. He would tell essentially the same story, but the way He told it and the metaphors He used would be different.

The language we use to spread the Gospel today needs to communicate the fundamental truths of our faith and the message of Jesus teachings in a way that people today will respond to, without losing the heart of the message. Modern parables, stories from our culture to illustrate eternal truths. The way we do church has to change in some ways, which I will talk about in another post. But the way we talk to people about God has to change.

The mass media, in particular television and internet is the biggest way this will happen. One of the best things about the Nooma DVD series is that it talks about Christian issues in a way people listen and respond to. The message Rob Bell gives reaches so many more people than it would were he merely preaching it in a church. Most people have a DVD player, and can get access to these DVDs, so more can be blessed by it.

PowerPoint presentations are now used in churches for sermons, to demonstrate things in a way which people of this generation can relate to, understand and learn from. Internet downloads allow people to download these presentations and the talks themselves to listen to or even read talks from their pastor, and allow them to catch up with talks they have missed.

CD's of books - including the whole Bible - can now be bought or downloaded onto ipods all over the world, for people to listen to.

What an amazing opportunity, a chance to take the gospel to people who haven't heard it in a way they can relate to and understand. To show them the eternal truth of the gospel in a way that is relevant today.

This only works though, because of the content.

The content is truth, it is real, it is powerful and it is from the Lord. Its beyond anybody and anything. Its an eternal mystery. We are all on a journey of faith forever learning more about our Lord. Along the way, like a small child learning to walk, we fall over and have setbacks. We make mistakes.

But the journey continues.

We need to let God lead us in this journey, to hold His hand and let Him guide us through life in a world that is different to how it has ever been, a culture far removed from 2000 years ago. But where His truths apply as much as they ever have.

To be in the world and not of the world is to communicate our faith in a way people can relate to and understand and not lose the essential elements that make it what it is. It's like putting fruit in a blender. Once you turn off the blender it looks different, but its still the same fruit.

Its still the same essential taste, the same goodness that's getting through. Lets communicate our faith in a way that is appropriate for today's world, but never lose its fundamental message.

You may say that living out our faith is the best way to communicate it, and I'd be inclined to agree.

However, surely today the way we live out our faith has changed. We live in a different culture, a different time, where different attitudes prevail in society, where we have different things as part of our daily life.

The truth we live out never changes, but the way we live it does. 100 years ago there was no electricity to conserve. There was no such thing as electric light bulbs to use ethically. There were few charities to support. We had less knowledge of injustice and poverty in the world than we do know.

In fact, the culture we live in now means that we have more knowledge than ever before and arguably a bigger responsibility than ever before. When things like that happened before, they often weren't known about. You can't act on what you don't know. Now we know almost all we can know, and as Christians we have a responsibility to act on it and make change happen.

So you see, even the way we live out our faith has changed.

Now back to where I began. Given all the knowledge we now have, and how small the world and even the universe seems to be, we have lost our sense of wonder.

We need to claim that back. We worship a God who "also made the stars". Look at the Hubble space telescope website one day, and look at God's creation.

Then read that verse again. "He also made the stars". Like almost as an afterthought, an aside. Like with the click of His fingers.

When I look at the stars and the pictures from the Hubble site, I see that God is awesome, powerful, bigger than anything or anyone, high above all things. A God who is worthy of praise, glory, worship and honour. A God worth telling people about.

We need that sense of awe and wonder back, and when we gain it, we know how important it is to share the gospel. And when we do live it out, when we do talk about it, when we do communicate it, we do it in a way that people relate to and understand, using parables from our own lives or from today's world as well as the Biblical parables.

Eternal truth about the God who 'also made the stars', but a modern delivery method.