For almost 75 years we have used what is known as a problem-solving model of the gospel. You have a problem; we have a product that will solve your problem; buy our product; and your problem will be solved. Simple, straight-forward, and to the point.
But what if a person doesn’t follow that line of reasoning? What if they are not so much a linear learning student, but a visual, or auditory, or kinesthetic learner? A four point, linear-sequential explanation of our message doesn’t communicate.
The Christian Message in an illiterate society might better be communicated through storytelling, or art, or personal expression. The simple gospel simply isn’t that simple anymore. We need to learn to express Christ’s message of Redemption in different ways— not just one way. A visual gospel by culture. Verbal story telling. A gospel expressed in movements and shape and art.
Then again, the forever-context for the gospel is love. Our message will never be understood unless it is covered in genuine love and graciousness.
Still, the challenge remains— what would our message look like, feel like, sound like, if we moved it out of its linear explanations?
Some years ago a young Ethiopian college student came to our home and asked if she could become a Christian. Why would you want to do that? Her reply? Because I’ve seen how you two love each other and I want what it is you have. Wow! The content (explanation) of the gospel followed its expression in the love she saw between Starr and me.
Francis of Assisi is famous for giving us Preach the gospel everywhere you go, and, if necessary use words. He understood that the Christian faith is more than merely words. And its expression must be more than meager words. It must be expressed and received in the mindset of each individual, in their culture.
We need to become keen observers of the world around us. Of the people around us. We have never lived in a monolithic society. To assume so would be naïve on our part. So it would be amiss to assume that anyone can understand the gospel in our cultural context. They need to understand it in their context.
We must re-imagine the gospel in the contexts of the various peoples and cultures around us. One size no longer, and never has, fit all. We are probably more diverse now than at any other time in human history.
Let’s reframe our message so it can be grasped by more people in more ways. Multicultural.
And cradled always in the arms of love.
Loving God; loving people…, and bringing the two together!
NEXT— No Other Name!