Well I guess in reflecting over the course of the week spent at Next Gen, I think I would have to say there was much to be learnt apart from just skills in being a leader; that is, I got a lot personally out of the talks and also the workshops. This probably won’t be a super long post, but I guess I do want to highlight the importance of being trained in Christian ministry. We in Australia definitely are very privileged to have so many resources to be trained with. When Raj was talking about Next Gen in Uganda, you can clearly see how under-resourced those people were; and yet the Christians there received the Bible so joyfully it nearly makes me feel ashamed for not feeling the same way about what we have here.
Mark’s talks on the book of Matthew were probably the most hard-hitting. The overall message I got from the week is that the world still has a misunderstanding on who Jesus is, what He came to do and such. And perhaps this is what was meant by “The Fight of Your Life”, our fight is to correct the world’s incorrect views of Jesus. And when I think about it, many people are prejudiced against Christianity because they all think they’ve understood it all and so they easily reject it with some simple misconception. Today I find it hard to talk to a lot of non-Christians, like for door-knocking and walk-ups because they hear the name “Jesus” and their preconceptions immediately activate and they immediately refuse to hear anything of what we have to say.
Yes, I suppose Christianity has made a bad image on a lot of people, the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other “sects” of Christianity that have perverted the truth have instead made people think that they are the true Christianity and because they are so annoying and corrupted as people, non-Christians immediately place us “Bible-believing” Christians in the same category as them, as a bunch of liars and people seeking to exploit others.
But we are not. We seek to reach people with the truth which is available to all through the Bible, and that is why it is so vital that we learn this “truth” in depth so we can correct people who get it wrong, and who are not yet fully prejudiced against Christianity. I have a hunch that everyone who is not a Christian has a misconception about Christianity; they believe something which is not true and that’s the thing that makes Christianity seem unappealing. But in truth, Christianity isn’t. This week at Next Gen has all the more informed me to fight for the truth of the gospel, for those who know nothing about it, and for those who have it totally wrong.
One of the ways we can do this is to first teach people to read the Bible. Since the truth of Christianity resides in the Bible and is readily available to everyone, the easiest thing for non-Christians to do is simply to read the Bible. However, it’s apparent that people don’t read the Bible correctly. They approach it again with some preconceptions which prevents them from reading it correctly. If you approach the Bible with the hope that it is wrong in some way, then that will be the thing you’ll be looking for; you’ll ignore everything until you find something that’s close enough to a “mistake” and then you confirm your assumption that Christianity is wrong.
Another such misconception is that people think the Bible is just another book. But it can’t be read like a novel and such; all that crap we learnt in English doesn’t apply here; anyone who reads the Bible in such a way is going to reach a different “truth” that never existed.
(Sorry I took a long break in typing this post so I’ve lost my chain of thought at this point)
One of the most obvious ways of doing this is by imposing your own views on your Bible without any proper knowledge of it. For example, post-modernism is the most ridiculous perspective to employ when reading the Bible; it allows you to literally make up whatever you want about the Bible. That way, you extract multiple meanings from the Bible; but that can’t be so because the Bible represents a single truth that doesn’t contradict itself. Having multiple meanings in the Bible that contradict each other would simply nullify any truth in the Bible.
I guess my point at the end of the day is that there is a great need to not only teach what the Bible says, to those who don’t know anything about Christianity, but also to clarify the truth for those who have it wrong. The latter is hard because lies can make people biased against Christianity and that’s the challenge we as Christians face. Indeed Satan is at work in this world; and as the Lord of Lies we definitely have a fight on our hands. The good news for us, though, is that we have God on our side.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us?
– Romans 8:31