The Challenges We Face
Updated: Aug 22, 2020
The post-everything world that we now inhabit is among other things post-Christian in its character. Yet, it is much more than that it is also as Lesslie Newbigin so ably pointed out a pagan society. But not the kind of pre-pagan society that one traditionally associates with those of pre-Christian Papua New Guinea or the jungles of Amazonia, but rather a post-Christian pagan society. By that, I mean a society that has abandoned Christianity as an option, a society that is in many respects not only indifferent to Christianity but also anti-Christian in character.
Yet, it is in a strange way a society that is holding on to many of the trappings of authentic Christianity, such as a desire for justice, equality, and human rights, etc., which are the by-products of Christianity's influence of upon Western society over many centuries. It is, in fact, a society that has everything. To use Mark Sayers' words, 'it is a society that has the kingdom without the King.' Now I know this excludes the poor and disenfranchised. Still, for those who are relatively prosperous in our society, they have everything, including their smashed avocados, their five-dollar coffee, their designer clothes and their i-phones.
Yes, they talk about justice, equality, and human rights, etc. and seek to engage in these things to a point. Still, ultimately they are autonomous individuals and the centre of their own universe with the freedom to do whatever they please. Thus, this post-Christian pagan society is incredibly difficult to engage with the gospel. How do you engage those who already have everything? Including the trapping of the kingdom. How do you communicate the gospel, when the very idea of Christianity is anathema to many in our society? Indeed, if we are to engage in mission in this post-everything world in which we live then we must be in it for the long haul for the task set before us in anything but easy and to suggest otherwise is to live in cloud cuckoo land. Yet we must not become discouraged for we are called to serve the One who has all authority in heaven and earth; however, at the same time, we should be realistic about the challenges we face.