Episode 1. Surveying the Spiritual Landscape
Sometimes, we’re afraid to share Jesus with others, because, well we look at society and think – they don’t want Jesus – when all along, there’s a deep spiritual yearning happening right now.
Join Berni Dymet today/tomorrow – as he surveys the spiritual landscape, from A Different Perspective.
Sometimes, we’re afraid to share our faith in Jesus with others, because, well, we look at society and think to ourselves – they don’t want Jesus, they don’t want to hear this stuff – when all along, there’s a deep spiritual yearning happening out there, right now, in the hearts of so many.
It’s interesting you know as we look around at people and society as a whole these days that there’s a spiritual paradox playing itself out in the lives of so many people. On the one hand most have rejected the institutional bricks and mortar Church thing of the 1950’s and yet still there’s a spiritual hunger bubbling away just beneath the surface.
My hunch is that one of the reasons that so many Christians are shy or backward about sharing Jesus with others is that we mistake the rejection of the traditional Church, whatever that means or is, for a lack of spirituality. But just scratch below the surface and you find a whole generation or two or three that’s more spiritually in tune and inclined than ever before.
There’s been quite an interesting shift in the spiritual landscape in these last few decades. It’s a really generational change. The more chronologically endowed amongst us, you know, older baby boomers and the generation before them, too many of those people faith and spirituality was a very, very private matter.
There’s an old adage that you never talked about sex, religion or politics. And it’s important that we understand and we respect that. It’s still true amongst my parents generation, that’s very much the case but the younger baby boomers and the Gen X’s and the Y’s and so on, well we’re on a real spiritual journey in this world.
In one of my previous programs I spoke about a senior IT executive and a lawyer with whom I had lunch a while ago. And I’m thinking, “okay, well it’s going to be a business lunch and we’d be talking about this and that and IT matters. So I’m expecting this business discussion, right?”
Now the IT executive who’s a really senior guy in this global IT company, a really well known brand, he spent the whole of the lunch time talking about his spiritual journey and trying to discover Jesus and the problems he’d faced in some Churches and my lawyer friend pitches in and I discover he’s on a spiritual journey as well.
He’s been searching. He’s gone through some things and spent weekends trying to discover his own spirituality. Now I’ve only ever seen these two men before as an IT executive and as a lawyer. I never really thought of them as God’s children on a spiritual journey.
Here are people who are made in God’s image and they’re looking for something spiritual and they don’t know exactly what. I believe that was sacred ground. That to me, that lunch, was just the most amazing experience of God’s grace.
Because here were these men, these two men with a deep calling underneath calling, searching because God, as He’s made each one of us in His own image has put something inside us that causes us to go on that journey, that causes us to go on that search, that causes us to reach out and to look for something beyond ourselves. That something that we call “spiritual”.
Now for many, many years Christians and Churches have looked at “evangelism”, and I put that in inverted commas, as getting people to come to Church. Getting people to believe that facts about God and about Jesus and what He did and to accumulate some head knowledge and then to say, “Yes I believe that.”
But today, today the post moderns, as the sociologists call them, they don’t so much want to believe all with their heads, they want to believe with their hearts. They want to count on intuition and faith. In a sense they want to give up on the idea of truth in an absolute sense and have an experience of it instead.
And so we can go on preaching the old way to a generation that’s changed the way it thinks or we can say, ‘hang on a minute, these people, these post moderns, these younger people, they’re looking for something. Something authentic. They want us, in a sense, to preach with our lives, to share our lives with them’.
These people are tired of words, they want evidence. They want it to be credible. They want it to be plausible. If we’re talking about this God and this Jesus, they want to see it in our lives. They’re searching for something authentic.
They’re searching not for a sermon but for a relational exchange. For an experience with God. A Jesus that’s more than bricks and mortar religion. See these people are suspicious of authority. They’re suspicious of institutions and yet they hunger after small stories, the stories that you and I have in our lives.
Stories that speak of God’s love, God’s grace of real life. Of the fullness and a life that has some extra spiritual dimension to it beyond what they’ve been experiencing. Post moderns may have rejected the sort of institutional wrapping of the bricks and mortar Church. Yet they hunger for an authentic spirituality.
And at the same time these same people really don’t know the Jesus story. They’re not so much conscious of guilt. It’s more a sense of doubt and uncertainty in a world that’s changing more quickly than they can imagine. A world that feels as though it’s out of control.
And they are sick of condemnity rhetoric, whether it is from the Church or from anyone else and yet they have multiple alienations. Self esteem is a huge issue in society today. We have broken and fractured relationships. People are more isolated than ever.
I want to ask you to let this set you free, to share your Jesus with them because when you look into the face of someone in need, there, right there is someone made in the image of God, who planted in their DNA, has a deep yearning for God.
We should never look at people and at society and say, “Okay, they’ve rejected (and I call it this deliberately) bricks and mortar religion.” The thing that religion was, maybe in the post World War 2 time, in the 40’s and the 50’s and some of the 60’s and even the 70’s, they’ve rejected that, by and large, because they’ve rejected social institutions. And yet they’re searching for something and that something is Jesus.
Shoemaker in his celebrated poem wrote this:
They crave to know where the door is and all that so many ever find is only a wall where a door ought to be.
They creep along the wall like blind men with outstretched groping hands, feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door yet they never find it.
Men die outside that door as starving beggars, die on cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter. They die for want of what is within their grasp. They live on the other side of it, live because they haven’t found it.
What if God put you and me in their lives because of our face and our smile and our shoulder to lean on and our hands that can gently guide one of those children to that door to discover this Jesus for themselves? To walk through the door.
Yes our culture has often rejected bricks and mortar Christianity. That’s a challenge but what a huge opportunity this rediscovered sense of spirituality in our society really is. A spiritual hunger. An openness more than ever before that enables us, at the right time with the right words, to tell people about Jesus.
In the middle of that spiritual hunger He plonks you and me and He taps us on the shoulder and He whispers, “Show them. Show them the door. I’ve put you there to show them the door.”