10/29/16 Gary, Steve, Eduardo, and Nick various ages
In the last 4 days I’ve had lengthy man-on-the street outreach conversations with 4 men – Gary, Steve, Eduardo, and Nick – and they all had one thing in common: the Christianity they were presented with growing up is irrelevant to them. Two claim atheism, two are agnostic, and all are unimpressed with the version of Christianity that focuses on getting them in the doors of a church every Sunday but neglects the spiritual condition of the heart that they try so hard to ignore. All four fit into a growing trend I’ve been seeing over the last several years of daily street outreach – they see Christian beliefs and values as irrelevant and out of touch with society, and they have no use for Christianity personally.
All four have church-involved friends and have been raised in church-attending households, but when I asked them about their understanding of the Christianity they have rejected, all had the same basic misunderstanding – they each think the basic goal of Christianity is personal happiness. Based on this perception they believe it to be basically self-serving, and each claimed to have found personal fulfillment and satisfaction through other means, thank you very much.
However, Jesus said “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Righteousness – a right relationship with God, not personal happiness, is at the heart of Christianity. And at the heart of this misunderstanding is the belief that we already have a right relationship with God, or that we can obtain that righteousness by our own efforts. Paul wrote “you were dead in your transgressions and sins” and “no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law” but “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.”
In a world that increasingly claims a righteousness of its own, a “righteousness” independent of Jesus or biblical values, Christianity can seem irrelevant. But the truth is that man’s efforts at righteousness are ultimately futile, and Jesus alone offers the right relationship with God that we so desperately need.