In this post-Christian culture that we inhabit, Christians must stop assuming that the folks around them know what it means to be a Christian, or what it means to be a good Christian. They don’t.
So we need to start talking about the experience of our Christian walk in our daily lives, just like we experience it – as dailyness. No Christianese, at least if we can help it. No glossing over the bits that aren’t so easy, either. “Yeah, this is really rough. I’m glad God will turn it to good, but right now I’m having a hard time”. “I’m glad that forgiveness is what you do, not how you feel – I sure am angry”.
We’ve been the Shiny Happy People for so long that everyone thinks of evangelical Christianity as plastic. Or they see folks talking in Christianese to a Christian audience about one bit of the walk of faith and get totally confused. We can’t undo the Shiny Happy People – but we can be honest that that isn’t what Biblical Christianity is about.
We’re going to have to learn our Bibles better, of course. If we’re going to talk about what we are and aren’t supposed to do as Christians, we have to know the answers to those questions, and have source material. I know that Catholics have tradition to draw on as well, which isn’t the same thing IMO, but at least it’s *something*. “Pastor Bob said we should do it this way” isn’t good enough for me as a fellow Christian, I guarantee you it’s not enough for your non-Christian friends. They might disagree with the Bible, but being able to have a real conversation based on what it does and does not say is a big deal. I’ve done that, you know – said, “Let me get back to you” and researched something for non-Christian friends in my Bible and given them chapter and verse. “This is what we believe, this is why we believe this, this is what our Holy Book says” is something we need to share! No, it’s not going to instantly evangelize someone, but they can think about it and chew it over. It’s not vague. Christianity isn’t vague. We can no longer take for granted a general knowledge of the Bible and its contents.
So, it’s okay to assume that your neighbor isn’t a Christian, and to say, “this is what the Bible says I’m supposed to do. I know it will work out for good, but it’s not easy right now”. Or, “yeah, I’m not down with the way marriage is treated in that show”. Make ’em think! No one else does.
We have to be out there showing that we have reasons for what we do, that they’re not emotional fuzzy bunny reasons, and that we’re serious about obedience. This is a war, and the enemy has taken a lot of territory that we’ve assumed belonged to us.
Hey. Being serious about obeying ANYTHING is a big deal now, and it marks you out. Take advantage and be real with folks while they’re curious.