By Les Henson.
We understand that it is the Holy Spirit who convicts and calls those that come to faith in Jesus Christ. And we must pray for our friends and neighbours that the Spirit will work deeply in their lives. But often, what we fail to comprehend is that there are significant cultural barriers that prevent people from truly hearing the good news presented to them. So, we must recognise what those barriers are that hinder them from hearing, understanding and accepting the gospel. We must seek to mitigate those barriers so that their lives might be decluttered leaving room for the Spirit to work.
The first barrier involves much more than dealing with a person’s objections to faith. It goes much deeper in this age of continuous distraction. The fact is that people are not only busy; they are also distracted by the technology that inhabits and occupies their lives. Resulting in their inability to stop and genuinely reflect upon their lives and the things of God. For almost every minute of their waking hours is taken up with the distractive influence of the screen. It is a significant obstacle to our desire to share Jesus with them.
Secondly, the idea of a transcendent God hardly seems feasible in a secular age where there are so many choices and options for human flourishing. Consequently, when we advocate the Christian faith to our non-Christian friends and neighbours, we cannot assume that they understand faith as anything except a personal preference in a sea of many cultural choices. For they know that there are many other beliefs, ideologies, religions and philosophies out there from which they may choose. Equally, there is a world of distractions, which makes it difficult for them to reflect upon the truths of the gospel.
In such a cultural context, we radically need to rethink how we communicate and incarnate the gospel to those acutely embedded in such a setting. The continuous buzz of the digital world and proliferation of personal choices and personal stories of meaning has created what Charles Taylor refers to as a distracted, buffered self. A private world in which the individual is isolated and insulated from all influences beyond their rational mind, particularly transcendent influences that just don’t fit into their world preoccupied with the immanent frame, in which everything can be explained naturally and logically.
The starting point in seeking to share our faith with our friends and neighbours is, as I stated earlier, to pray for them and Spirit’s work in their lives. Second, we must build meaningful relationships with them that enable us to incarnate the gospel in and through our lives and lifestyle so that they are attracted to the things of God. We must ask God to open up opportunities for us to patiently and thoughtfully share the gospel with them in such a way that breaks through their complacency. And finally, we should pray that God will encounter them in moments of unexpected and unexplainable transcendency.