It is past time we return to the basics if we are to relate to those around us in a way they will understand who God is and what it means to follow Him.
When we send missionaries across an ocean, we know they will need to spend months learning not only a new language, but also new attitudes, customs, and expectations.
But what about when we share the gospel with our next door neighbor? Most of our neighbors speak the same language we do, shop at the same grocery store, and take the same roads to work. We assume they will understand the words we use when we share with them the hope we have in Jesus.
As Western culture is less and less influenced by Christian ideology, we can no longer assume our neighbors are familiar with basic biblical concepts or terms. When you say words like “God” or “saved,” your neighbor might hear dozens of different meanings.
As a result, like cross-cultural missions, reaching out to our neighbors requires us to learn a new “language.” Just because we both speak English does not mean my friend will understand my words the way I intended. Needless to say, talking with friends and neighbors about spiritual truths can be tough.
There are three key things I find helpful when communicating gospel truths with those far from God.
1. Expose what people worship
The Bible describes sin in two ways: as law-breaking and as idol-worshipping. As our culture moves further from recognizing any absolute standard of morality, the concept of law-breaking resonates less. As Don Carson says, “In a culture like ours ... a better way to unpack the nature of sin is to unfold the nature of idolatry rather than the nature of law.”
To the person who says, “Actually, I’m not religious,” the Bible tells him or her that yes, he or she is, because everyone serves a god of one kind or another. As Bob Dylan once said, “You’re ...