When we see Christianity on the news nowadays, it’s usually in response to a church failing, whether it was the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandals in past years, or some notable Christian completing their departure from the faith, or perhaps the Church of England installing slides and minigolf courses inside their churches. And you’d be forgiven for having a very different perception of the church in general from one that is actually representative of the church today.
Think about it – is the news headline ‘Woman lives full life following Christian faith without scandal’ something you hear often on the news? If at all? I don’t. All I get on the local news is seven consecutive stories about local murder such that I feel I have to try to convince my immigrant wife that people can actually live full lives without being killed here (this actually happened one night!). Christianity doesn’t make for good ratings. In fact, it seems increasingly true that good things in general don’t make for good ratings (unless preceded by a bad thing) – it’ll just merit a passing mention. Instead, we like drama, and news stations at least seem to stumble on that fact. Some are no doubt fully aware of it.
Christians have a lot to offer to a culture like this. We have an obligation to live out our lives following the One who gave us the best news we can imagine. Even 2,000 years ago, loooong before the concept of a 24-hour news station, Jesus lived a holy life. ‘Holy’ fits here – the meaning of the word is ‘set apart’. Jesus lived a live much different than his contemporaries – fully dedicated to God – even in ways that went against how others thought being dedicated to God looked like (the Pharisees had very different ideas about that). Jesus had that intriguing idea of showing radical love to others, that He was not only allowed to talk to people around him, but He had a mission to talk to, heal, and point them to God. At the very end of His time on Earth, He charged His disciples with very much the same thing (Matthew 28:18-21).
What does that look like for us in this age? Yes, there are those who are called by God to travel to relatively unknown places in order to spread the gospel and to help the people there, but most people stay closer to home for many reasons. And to them, doing what Jesus commanded doesn’t look too much more different than the differences in the location they live in. There are still people around every Christian – neighbors, co-workers, friends, etc. That’s a lot of people, and it’s very likely at least some of them likely don’t believe in the Gospel or attend church. The freeing gospel of Jesus Christ hasn’t taken hold yet, and they are living their lives trying to please another god, the culture, and/or themselves. While it doesn’t seem like a huge outward difference, this can completely transform a person’s inner (or shall we say spiritual?) being. And, of course, the chance of helping save another person from hell should be all the motivation we need.
If we keep Jesus to ourselves, we are not doing good to anyone. Yes, there may be another Christian down the road willing to share – but there might not be either. It could be as simple as a shared meal, or regular conversation with a neighbor. But that alone can speak volumes about Christianity where no news station can.