Can You Relate To The World?

Wow, what a game!

Hi Calvary. To not acknowledge the fact that the greatest Super Bowl comeback victory in history was just claimed by our own New England Patriots would be, well, awkward. But, more than awkward, it would be a missed opportunity to give a perfect example of how we, as the church, can continue to find common ground with the desperate world around us.

In John 16:33 Jesus tells his disciples, “in the world you will have tribulation…” One of the reasons this is the case is that we are foreigners. Christians, the world is not our home. Put another way, we are not at home in the world. We’ve all heard the expression, “like a fish out of water.” That’s what we are in the world. In fact, there is a planet whose environment is as hostile to human life as land is to a fish - Mars. The world is to the Christian, spiritually, what Mars is physically. It’s an environment that is hostile to us in every way. Hostility is not comfortable. Sometimes the discomfort is like a pebble in your shoe, irritating. Sometimes it’s like a migraine headache, debilitating. But in either case, because we don’t like to be uncomfortable, we seek to find relief.

For Christians relief is often found by keeping our distance from the world. We discover that the further we get away from the world, the less we feel it’s hostility. The problem is that the further we get away the less the world feels our love. The further we get away the less the world hears our truth. The further we get away the less the world even knows that we’re here. And the further we get away from the world, the less the world can relate to us and us to them.

We are a bridge. A bridge between the world and heaven. And in order to be effective, we have to be anchored at both sides. What do you call a bridge that is only connected on one side? A plank - As in, “walk the plank.” It’s like a jetway that only comes to within 20 feet of the airplane door. Good luck getting into the airport through that! And good luck getting people who are lost in the world (think standing at the airplane door) to enter into the Kingdom of God when they never interact with a follower of Christ who they can relate to (think 20 foot gap between plane door and jetway).   

Yesterday morning, Kari and I went out for breakfast at a local restaurant that has a bar. No we didn’t sit down at the bar for a drink. Haha. But as we were finishing up our meal I overheard some guys at the bar talking about the Super Bowl. Now it may not be the case that all guys who are sitting at the bar at 11 o’clock on a Monday morning need Christ, but if you heard the way they were talking, you would have been pretty sure they did too. Then I realized that I knew one of them. Kari headed out before me while I waited for the check and so on my way out I stopped and talked to the 4 of them. Let me just say that if I hadn’t watched the Super Bowl I would have had nothing to strike up a conversation about. But because I had watched the Super Bowl, I was able to immediately enter into a conversation. The guy I knew introduced me to his buddies. We shook hands and marveled together about the incredible game we had all just experienced the night before. We had a common experience. Something we could all relate to. I made a connection with those guys. Will that connection between myself and them lead to a connection between them and Christ? I don’t know but here’s a possibility. After I leave one of the them says, “Who’s that guy?” The one who knows me replies, “Oh, he’s the pastor of the church over there on Mill Street.” The first guys reacts. “A pastor? huh.” And the wheels start turning.

My point isn’t that everyone should start watching football. Far from it. For many people football would be the furthest thing from common ground. Some people hate football (I know that’s hard for some of you to believe, but it’s true; I’m married to one). For those people it will be something else. The point is we have to make sure we keep some common ground. We need to keep the bridge connected on both sides. Yes, that means we will necessarily feel the hostility more than we would otherwise. But if we are in Christ then we have peace under pressure. We have strength to endure. We have eternal life in endless supply. We have all we need to remain relatable to the world without compromising our love for God.

For His Glory,

Pastor Justin