Erik Strandness challenges us to rethink the way we share our faith for the sake of our young people
Political consultant James Carville famously stated that the election between George Bush and Bill Clinton came down to a simple concept: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Bush’s failure to focus on the financial woes of the country cost him the election. Sadly, we Christians often fall into the same campaign trap. We waste so much time putting together our religious platform that we forget our Candidate is the only One capable of fixing spiritual poverty. My fear is that we may lose more than an election, we could lose our young people.
Salvation is simple, religion is hard.
Calvary is clear, doctrine is dense.
Paul recognised that it was not religious trappings that saved him but rather Jesus. He knew that it was useless to have his finger on the religious pulse when it was the spilt blood of Christ that changed everything.
“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith – that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3: 8-11)
The power of the cross
When I worked with the men at the Union Gospel Mission it became clear to me that their healing was not due to intellectual arguments or doctrinal precepts but the person of Christ. For the first time in their lives, they were told that their weakness could actually be a manifestation of God’s power. Surprisingly, the unworthiness they felt didn’t relegate them to the back of the salvation bus but got them to the front of the line because Jesus was dying to meet them. The doctrinal detail came later, not as a document to sign, but as the story they longed to hear.
Jesus is not the poster boy for Christianity, He is Christianity.
It’s quite sad that we put the cross at the back of the sanctuary as if it was a reward for entering the church when it should be the welcome mat for the Christian life.
Interestingly, the power of the cross can only be realised once we acknowledge our weakness. All too often our evangelistic efforts are aimed at sculpting six-pack minds instead of cultivating broken and contrite hearts. We applaud the one who can bench press 300 pounds of doctrine but forget to offer Jesus to those struggling to do a single sit up.
“For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:16-17)
Get access to exclusive bonus content & updates: register & sign up to the Premier Unbelievable? newsletter!
It’s the saviour, stupid
Our hearers must first know that their hearts need fixing before they will be willing to go under the salvation knife, and it will be the hope they see in the scars on our chests that will cause them to consult the Great Physician. Ultimately, however, they must first sign the Jesus consent form before their heart of stone can be transplanted with a heart of flesh. It is only once they feel their heart ticking after God’s own heart that they will be curious enough to read the theological postoperative report.
“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezekiel 11:19-20)
So, let’s be careful to not get lost in doctrinal debates and zealously construct a Christian platform because in order to win the souls of the unsaved electorate we must remember: “It’s the saviour, stupid.”
Erik Strandness is a physician and Christian apologist who has practiced neonatal medicine for more than 20 years.