If we want to share the gospel message, we have no other option but to leave behind the comforts of a community where everyone is asking questions to which we have established answers. We must come to understand the questions that the wider world is asking, rather than expecting non-Christians to have a Christian worldview.
Some of the central questions of the Christian faith include: “Why is humanity alienated from God?” and “What must we do to be reconciled to our Creator?” These are deeply important questions. They must be asked and answered. Yet, for these questions to be meaningful, we must believe in a personal and transcendent God who created the cosmos and cares about what happens to us.
For many Westerners, this worldview can no longer be assumed. Increasingly, a loving Creator is no longer the foundation of our worldview. Unmoored from this basic belief that has characterized Western thought for almost two thousand years, our society’s basic questions change. Questions rooted in the Christian tradition no longer serve as a useful starting point for communication. If we love our neighbors – if we want to share the gospel with them – we must stop insisting that they answer our questions. We must come to understand how they see the world.
The undergirding worldview of the post-Christian West is a faith in the power of humanity to make sense of the universe without reference to the supernatural. The universe is viewed as entirely material and completely knowable by the human intellect. Complete mastery of the world is simply a matter of time and human effort. Combined with this great faith in the power of science to discover reality, there is a growing assumption that there can be no universal spiritual or moral truth.
Most of us, to the extent that we are engaged in the wider society, are caught up in this worldview that denies the Creator or any moral universals. In this spiritual vacuum, the individual is left to determine what is true. Nothing, of course, can be said to be universally true; but each person is left to develop their own code of values – their personal “truth.”
This radically individualistic way of relating to truth leads to new questions. The questions of our culture are no longer about alienation from God and how to be reconciled. Our new questions are far more fundamental: “Am I alone?”; “What is truth?”; “How can I lead an ‘authentic,’ genuine life?”; “Why is there so much suffering in the world?”;”Why do I feel empty?” These are some of the most pressing questions of the Western world today.
If we truly care about our neighbors, we as followers of Jesus are called to engage with these questions. We will never be able to communciate the gospel to our friends, family and co-workers if we continue to insist on starting from our own worldview rather than theirs. We must engage in the pressing questions of the world, trusting that all genuine searching for truth will lead to the Lord Jesus.