When They Ask “Does Christianity Work?”
I was talking with a Christian leader from a large Midwestern university, and he was telling me about how students have changed in the last few decades. “Kids these days aren’t asking ‘What’s true?’” he said. “That’s what college kids asked in the ‘60s. Today, kids are asking, “What can help me deal with my pain?” It seems as though every kid I disciple comes from a dysfunctional family, and he’s trying to process his pain.”
The nature of these questions is evolving over time. For many, especially the younger generation, truth isn’t an issue because they have become convinced that all religious viewpoints are equally valid. It’s the old, “You have your truth and I have mine.”
We need to help unchurched friends understand the absolute and unchanging truth of Christ, but we should also explain how Christ is available to help them in practical ways to heal their hurts and help them deal with everyday living. We need to communicate that Christianity isn’t just for the tomorrow of their eternity but also for the today of their lives.
I’ve discussed this at length with Martin Robinson, an astute observer of the British religious scene. He recently made this observation about Britain, although it’s certainly germane to the U.S.:
At one time the most important question in our society was, “Is this true?” That is the question that most Christian apologetics are designed to cover. “Is it true that Jesus rose from the dead?” “Is the Bible accurate?” and so on. However, the impact of secularism is such that many no longer ask that question in the field of morals and faith.
It is assumed that since all faith and morality are firmly in the area of opinion and that all opinions are equally valid, the only thing that really matters is whether or not they work: “Does it work?” is the question that arises again and again. Never mind if the suggested formula is derived from Hindusim, Buddhism, the occult, or Christianity—the main question asked is, “Does it work?”
Our challenge, then, is to help this new generation of unchurched friends understand that Christianity does work, that is, that the God of the Bible offers us supernatural wisdom and assistance in our struggles, difficulties, and recovery from past hurts.
But we need to communicate that the reason it works is because it’s true. Because Christ, at a point in history, had the power to overcome the grave, we can have access to that same kind of supernatural power to cope with the difficulties that face us day to day. And because the Bible is God’s revelation to His people, it contains a kind of practical and effective help that’s unmatched by mere human philosophers.
So Christians need to continue to marshal the historic, archaeological, prophetic, and other evidence that Jesus is the one and only Son of God. But we shouldn’t stop there. We should be ready to go the next step and tell our unchurched friends that because that’s true, there are meaningful implications for their lives today—for their marriages, their friendships, their careers, their recovery from past pain, and so on.
This week's essay is drawn from "Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary" by Lee Strobel.