You may already be aware of this but for clarity sake, let me state the challenge North American Christianity faces. We Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus, disciples who are witnesses for the mission God is fulfilling in Jesus Christ. As such witnessing disciples, we share in God’s grace as we are led by the Holy Spirit and transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. It’s a life that’s lived by faith as we love God and others with the same love that God has expressed to us in Christ. This seems to be what living as a Christian is about.
In a culture that was more or less Christianized (what we sometime hear called christendom), being a Christian seemed to be somewhat of a more simple endeavor…perhaps to simple. Regardless, were not living in that Christianized culture anymore. The culture around us is a post-Christian or post-christendom culture where the prevailing worldview that people live by is neither biblical nor influenced by gospel of Jesus Christ. Along with this new post-Christian culture comes a wide range of questions people are asking. While the questions are not necessarily new, the process by which the questions are raised, explored, and answered are new. Things which people previously took for granted in regards to questions about life, morality, meaning, and so on, these are not taken for granted any more. As people explore these questions, they are listening to a diversity of voices.
I like to describe this exploration as a big conversation taking place around a big table. The conversation is, in general, about life. In the previous culture, the voices in the conversation were likely to only be Christian. The voices were simply different denominations and church tribes debating with each other about who’s right…sometimes over issues that really did not matter as much as some believed. Today is different. The voices joining the conversation at the table today are not just a bunch of Christians. Besides Christianity, seated at the table today are also the voices Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, New-Age religions, atheism, and on and on. As I said, it’s a large table with lots of diverse beliefs and world views.
So the conversation we are engaging in as witnessing disciples of Jesus Christ is a conversation we are having with a multiplicity of voices. But here is the caveat…on some occasions, some of those other voices no longer want us Christians at the table. There are reasons for that which I believe is some of our own doing but that is for another conversation For now, we must just recognize the challenge: How do we live as witnessing disciples of Jesus in a culture where we are not the only voice but also where we may not always be welcomed into that conversation taking place around the table?
It’s time for a change in our table manners!