Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 4 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Outreach Focus” (LISTEN HERE).
The world needs Jesus.
There are some who would disagree, but I believe it is safe to say that any Christian in whom the Spirit of God is at work believes the world needs Jesus.
The challenge is this: “What aspect of Jesus does the world need?”
This morning I had a small repair on my van. I have a shop full of tools. I needed a tool to fix the problem. The question is, “What tool?” When I narrowed it down to a 12mm deep socket with a flexible head ratchet wrench, I was able to tighten the nut that needed tightening. (That probably didn’t make sense to some of you! J) The point is while there are many tools. To make an impact you need the right one.
Have we been using the wrong tool recently to do outreach? Or have I have tried to use the same tool on every individual? (Sometimes banging a hammer fixes a problem, but a hammer will not fix every problem your car has!)
Jayson Gorges in his book, 3D Gospel, begins to bring to light that the Gospel message needs to be shared differently depending on the cultural paradigms of the people. In this book, Jayson identifies three basic cultural responses to sin: guilt, shame, and fear
These three moral emotions have become the foundation for three types of culture.
- Guilt-innocence cultures are individualistic societies (mostly Western), where people who break the laws are guilty and seek justice or forgiveness to rectify a wrong.
- Shame-honor cultures describe collectivistic cultures (common in the East), where people are shamed for not fulfilling group expectations and seek to restore their honor before the community.
- Fear-power cultures refer to animistic contexts (typically tribal), where people afraid of evil and harm pursue power over the spirit world through magical rituals.
There is much that can be discussed on this topic, but my point is to have an outreach focus is also to become adept at understanding the starting point and sharing the Gospel precisely to the issue that is at hand.
For years many of our approaches have addressed our culture as “guilt/innocence” culture. This assumes a basis of right and wrong and when I do wrong I feel guilt. So we bring up truths that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We assure the individual that their guilt is covered and sin is paid for by the “innocent suffering and death of Jesus.” The Gospel restores innocence to a guilty conscience. Nothing wrong with this!
But as a culture, I don’t sense we are as worried about right from wrong. Guilt is around, but I observe it is not a driving motivator. Rather what seems to be driving our culture is the desire for personal freedom and ability to do what I want. Moral standards are seen as restrictive to one’s free expression of life unless they align with your viewpoint on life. So what type of culture are we? I am not a social anthropologist, but here’s my hypothesis: We are moving to a “Fear/power” culture, however the response is not power over the spirit world through magic rituals, the fear is that someone is going to harm me and I need a power over that person to prevent them from harming me. The usual object of that power – government.
I believe and observe there is a lot of fear in our culture. Read the headlines. Fear of covid. Fear of rioting. Fear of IRS. Fear of liberals. Fear of conservatives. Fear of food shortages. Fear of global warming. Fear of school shootings. Fear of guns. Fear of drugs. Fear of illegal immigration. Fear of disease. Fear of racism. Fear of … The list goes on. (What would you add?)
So what aspect of Jesus does our world need more right now? I believe our world needs peace from the Prince of Peace.
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Apply: Give this some thought today. Notice the people and culture around you. Are they struggling with guilt? Shame? Or fear? Tomorrow we’ll explore what impact the peace only Jesus can give does to drive out fear in the hearts of people.
Prayer: (Of St. Francis of Assisi)
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.