Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Missionizing the Evangelicals

(Editor's Note: This post has turned into a mish-mash of random thoughts. I started out thinking it would be concise, but instead it is absolute ramble. I'm just too dang lazy to sift through it and make changes, so I'm posting it as is. For those who aren't interested in Jesus talk, you may click the "back" button on your browser now!)

Today's editorial cartoon in the *spit* National Post *spit* is fantastic.

The focus of this cartoon is, of course, the Anglican Church's seeming acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle choice. There is more than enough commentary out there on the SSM issue, and certainly enough opinion on homosexuality within the church. Oddly enough however, upon seeing this cartoon, my thoughts were redirected to my time at Columbia Bible College. I took a great class called "Foundations of Christian Mission", as well as other classes in evangelism and theology that really got me thinking about how we (loosely defined, the western church) have gone about the evangelization of the world. It struck me that in many ways, the church in countries like Mongolia, Ethiopia, and even Pakistan provide a WAY better example of dedication to God and perserverance than we do. As P.J. O'Rourke suggests in his book "Peace Kills", Egypt may be a more Christian nation than Sweden!

Church-goers in my neck of the woods tend to be quite content (read: rigid) in their faith. We chide the apparent cultural backwardness of those in other countries, all-the-while ignorant that Christian culture in North America is the very thing that prevents meaningful evangelization here at home! Our language, our music, and our clique mentality is exactly what turns people off.

The term "holier-than-thou" is bantered about quite frequently. This is primarily because to many Christians in North America, anything that isn't utterly Biblical is seen as fully negative (or at the very least, less-than-desirable). My professor in the Christian Mission class told a story of an experience he had. For most of the 1990's, he was a businessman in Saudi Arabia. His business? "Importing and Exporting". His business title gave him credibility. It allowed him to work and travel with relative freedom in a country that would otherwise not allow him to do so. Last time I checked, Saudi Arabia wasn't exactly inviting Christians to preach Jesus to the masses! In order to develop relationships with the ordinary Joe (or Akbar, if you will) in Saudi Arabia, he had to appear credible. This included taking part in daily prayers, and other Muslim activities. Upon returning to Canada, he began working with Croatian refugees in the Greater Vancouver area. As a part of his work, he would pray in the same manner as the Muslims (lay down a small mat, get down on his knees, bow and pray, etc). At first, those around him were leary. They saw this as syncretism in its worst form. Imagine: a Christian praying like a Muslim- the horror! However, his efforts were largely successful because the Muslim refugees saw in him someone who actually cared. His view was that the form is secondary to the meaning. That is, he knew he was praying to God. He never wavered from preaching the truth about Jesus. That he did this with methods that were not traditional was not important. And God was glorified.

The bottom line is this: doing what the Romans do does not make one a Roman. In fact, it can make you a whole lot more credible to the Romans!