Home Outreach Leaders Articles for Outreach & Missions Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?

Are You Too Christian for Non-Christians?

Google the expression “know your number” and you’ll find screen after screen of reportedly essential life metrics ranging from prostate-specific antigens (PSA), to cholesterol, the amount of money you will need in savings to retire, and your enneagram—which is a quantification of personality, which, depending on whom you believe, was either the brainchild of a 4th-century Christian mystic or a 20th-century Bolivian spiritualist, give or take 1,600 years, but who’s counting?

Well, it seems everyone is counting. With each passing day, some new app, gadget of wearable technology or fill-in-the-blank-o-meter emerges to help us capture, measure and analyze the big data we generate while simply going about living our lives, all holding out the promise of living life better, longer and more fruitfully—some of these meters serious and helpful, some of them silly and distractive.

It is written, Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered (Luke 12:7).

A Personal Great Commission Number

As I listened to Jason Meyer preach recently as he compared and contrasted separation from and engagement with the world, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had an app that measured our engagement with unbelievers?” Something that ran a running total of:

Amount of Time x Depth of Relationship x Unbelievers

Sadly, for many, the product would be small, low single digits. It is so easy to fill our time with the activity and fellowship of Christian life. Block out time for prayer, quiet time, worship, Sunday school, small group, committee meetings, accountability partners, Christian entertainment, political action, and socializing with your best friends with whom you just so happen to also attend church and, well, there really isn’t much margin left for, let’s say, evangelism.

Separation from the world isn’t really so hard. One could suggest it is a preferred and more comfortable course than engagement with it, especially if your love of God is strong. It is easier in many ways to be not of the world than it is to be in it and not of it.

The Two-Block Mission Field

Last year, our pastor in suburban Cincinnati challenged us at the holidays to pray for our neighbors by name, take them some baked goods, and then seek opportunities to invite them into our home. I confess that, first, we had to figure out most of their names in order to pray for them. When we did visit them with our jars of holiday snack mix, all of the neighbors were delighted that someone had finally instigated “neighborhood.” Most notably, when they started visiting our home and sharing our dining room table, it became quickly apparent to us, “We’ve been spending way too much time with fellow Christians.”

We were confronted with the mainstream culture head on, not in a cable TV show way, but just as people talking about things that people talk about. We heard with fresh ears just how easily unbelievers embrace things that we church folk won’t even go near, and how delicate is the task of discussing such things with people who don’t sing from the same hymnal as we do, indeed, who don’t sing from a hymnal at all. Our neighbors left our home knowing that we were Christian people, that we respect the authority of the Bible and, most of all, that we love our neighbors. Within a couple of weeks, one of them was serving in a local Christian ministry with us.

Such engagement is not easy, not at all. It requires higher degrees of attentiveness and calculation than do conversations with our brother and sister Evangelicals whose sentences we can all too easily finish. It requires an ability to apply rightly the Scripture to the circumstances and conversations in which we are engaged, a capability for which we are supposedly being equipped during the times we are together as Christians “loving and exhorting one another to good works.” And it requires a great patience with the blindness, deafness and death that Jesus asks us to speak into. Actually, it requires us to be disciplined and mature enough in our faith to see with his eyes.