Friday, July 08, 2005

A Really Good Question

Yesterday, during a great conversation on planting ministries on campuses and in our communities, a great question was asked, "So, how do we take the presence of Christ into our community?" At first glance, that seems like a simple question. You just be Christ in life. But, there is a deeper and far harder question that is at the heart of the simple one, "How do we present Christ in a culturally relevant way without being canned or cheesy?" One specific situation served as an example. We were talking about being the presence of Christ in a community cooking class. Immediately, one person mentioned that when salt is mentioned, you talking about being salt. If water is mentioned, talk about living water. The problem is, it seems unreal, unconnected to the culture, and canned/cheesy! I think there needs to be a couple more things to consider.
First, to the people that Jesus used those metaphors with, they carried weight and meaning. Salt was a valuable commodity used for more than just taste. Water was a source of life and an everyday necessity to the woman at the well. For followers of Christ today, we must take the metaphor a step further to connect with those who are hearing it. And maybe a salt metaphor does connect with a cooking class. But maybe there are other metaphors that do a better job of communicating the Gospel. We need to really process who Christ is to us, and who He wants to be to others, then make the creative leap to communicate that in a meaningful way.
Second, Jesus spoke with people that He was genuinely interested in. For Christ, it wasn’t about winning an argument, or notching His belt. It was/is always about the person and their reconciliation to Himself. Not only was He genuinely interested, but He communicated with them on a personal level. That takes a degree of connection that is harder earned today. To bring the presence of Christ into our communities, we must connect and communicate on a personal level that goes beyond “winning one more for the cause!” It requires an investment. And it needs to be in the context of relationship.
To take the presence of Christ into our communities, we must be willing to think, be creative, and invest our time and resources in connecting with people for their sake, and not our own. Find the metaphors that speak to people and earn the right to share it. It’s that simple, but so hard!

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