The #1 Problem on the Planet
I realize I have talked about, blogged about, tweeted about and even preached about this topic before but it definitely bears repeating. If you ask one hundred people what is the #1 problem on the planet you will likely receive 100 different responses depending upon their background and life experiences. If you ask within numerous denominations you might receive different answers but they will center on the fact that sin, the acts and attitudes, and our human transgression that separate us from God, is the #1 problem on the planet. However, since sin has been done away with by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it cannot occupy the #1 spot. Communicating this truth is the problem the Church is facing and why I believe that “lack of effective communication is the #1 problem on the planet”.
A few weeks ago my nephew, who I have not seen in over a decade came to visit. He has a hearing disability and communicates using American Sign Language (ASL). Prior to his arriving my son and daughter spent time with him and quickly picked up ASL. I used to be fluent in Spanish from my three years stationed in Panama while I was serving in the Army however, this was going to be an entirely different challenge for me. When my nephew arrived he began teaching my wife and I how to communicate using ASL. We both picked up much quicker than we thought.
As I became more proficient, but definitely not fluent, in communicating via ASL I noticed there were no tenses in the language. I also recalled that whenever my nephew would send me a Facebook message or a text his writing did not contain tenses. Since he was 21 I thought he was communicating like most other young adults do via text, fast and not necessarily using correct grammar. However, I began to understand he was writing in the same way he would sign using ASL, without tenses. A message of “I go store” was not incorrect to him as that is how he would communicate via sign. A message of “I sleep now go home later” would also be correct communication. A lady within our congregation stated that one of her friends who has a hearing disability also communicates via ASL and also writes the same way. It was clear that I had to learn not only how to communicate TO my nephew but how to understand him so that I could communicate WITH him more effectively.
This truth exists in any company, government, and especially of those who do not know Jesus Christ. There is a need not to just communicate TO people but WITH them. The problem with sharing the gospel isn’t limited because of sin. The gospel message itself is that sin has been overcome by the precious Lamb of God, Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross. However, if we want to communicate effectively with those who do not know Jesus Christ then we, within the Church, have to learn to communicate more effectively. People who are not Christ followers or who do not regularly attend a Sunday Celebration do not talk about redemption, sin, grace, and atonement the way those who do know Christ might. In fact, those words may likely never come up in their day to day conversation. To effectively communicate the gospel to them we have to do it in a way they understand. This does not mean changing or decreasing the level or amount of biblical truth we reveal (what is known at watering down the gospel). It does mean, taking the time to get to know the people we are sharing the gospel with and communicating the truths of God’s word to them in a way that makes sense to them.
Telling someone who doesn’t know God exists and therefore has no reason to believe that sin exists, that they are a sinner doesn’t make sense to them. However, inviting them into your life and loving them the way God loves us might make all the difference in the world to them. Sharing with them that there is a God, a Creator of the universe who loves them so much that He was willing to die for them, and put His Holy Spirit in them so that nothing could ever separate Him from them just might change their life. Letting them know that certain attitudes and behaviors and actions can prohibit us from experiencing the level of intimacy with God that He wants us to have with Him just may draw them into the new life God wants them to have.
But it starts with the Church being able to recognize and overcome the #1 problem on the planet, lack of effective communication.