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Have you ever found yourself in the situation where youâ€™re sharing your faith with a (non-Christian) friend, and you find yourself getting quite defensive about the particular issue? Like a good Christian, you quote the Bible, to which your friend responds, â€œOh, yeah. Iâ€™ve read the Bible!â€ Or maybe your friend would say something like â€œJesus would never haveâ€¦â€ and â€œit doesnâ€™t say anywhere in the Bible thatâ€¦â€? In Australia, the â€˜same-sex-marriageâ€™ debate continues to be a hot topic in the public square. Iâ€™ve read comments on Twitter and Facebook claiming things like â€if Jesus were here today he would not judge people for their sexualityâ€ and yet the Bible is quite clear about Godâ€™s parameters for relationships and sexuality (Lev 18:22 and 20:13, Romans 1:26-27 and 1 Cor 6:9-10 â€“ and Jesusâ€™ own response to a marriage debate, in Matthew 19: 4-6)
Is it possible that our friends think that they have a â€œgood enoughâ€ understanding of the Christian faith and what the Bible says, and therefore ignore it or reject it? What news have they heard? Is it the real Good News?
Faith in action comes through both what we do, and what we speak, in love and truth. In the Apostle Johnâ€™s first letter weâ€™re reminded, â€œâ€¦let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.â€ 1 John 3:18
There are opportunities available everywhere to speak truth into peopleâ€™s lives. The institution of marriage was suffering long before the â€˜same-sex marriage debateâ€™ began. High divorce rates within the Church do not help support the claim that (it) is sacred and a life long commitment within the Christian community. Pastor Mark Sayers writes, â€œWe must rebuild the shattered ruins of the covenantal in our culture. Sure, we can legislate change regarding the sanctity of marriage, we can launch media campaigns advocating for covenantal ways of living. The surest way, however, to revolutionize our world is to practice covenantality in our own lives.â€
Recent census data in both the UK and Australia suggests that somewhere between 50-65% of people identify themselves with the Christian faith, whilst the latest church research numbers are that 6-9% actually attend church regularly. If the commentators are correct, and our society is post-Christian, then we can assume that for many the Christian story is not unknown, but a distant memory archived in peopleâ€™s minds along with superstitions, mythologies and the irrelevant.
Among the responses we get, we often receive questions from people who appear to have some understanding of Christianity. Theyâ€™re not saying, â€œwho is Jesus?â€ but many are asking â€œWhy would God allow _______(fill in the blank)â€. Itâ€™s as if the silent majority is waiting for something to awaken that distant memory â€“ the salvation story that was once more familiar to them. The dialogue confirms this assumption that those responding are looking for help to correct their misconceptions about Jesus. The questions we get do however show a common lack of understanding of grace and the depth of Godâ€™s love and forgiveness.
People today do have questions about Christianity. Sharing our faith, and responding to questions is helping bring people closer to the significance of trusting God and putting their faith in Jesus.