Might you be inclined to participate in base jumping (jumping off of sky scrapers or mountains with a parachute), extreme canoeing (in white water), cliff jumping (jumping off high cliffs into the ocean), extreme motorsports (doing insane things using a motorcycle waaaaaay up in the air), free running (jumping between and off of buildings and other crazy stuff), ice or rock climbing (straight up cliffs using your bare hands), and other such extreme activities? Extreme sports are not for the faint of heart. It is for those who are willing to, literally, put their lives in danger for the thrill of an adrenalin rush.
Well, there is an extreme sport that Christians are supposed to participate in. And while it does require us to “put ourselves out there,” this one is not just limited to the crazies (for any of you who might be into extreme sports, please forgive the characterization). This extreme sport is actually the calling of every Christian. We are talking here about sharing our Christian faith in an increasingly hostile world. Yes, sharing our faith in the current environment is an extreme sport and, while it is the calling of every believer, it is not for the faint of heart.
Let me give you an example of this. Several months ago I produced a video for the ministry website called: The Religion of Evolution. The premise of the video was that, contrary to what most Naturalists believe, the basis for a belief in naturalistic evolution is not science, but naturalistic presuppositions (the belief that there is no such thing as a supernatural reality, so the diversity of life on earth has to be the result of completely natural causes).
After this was posted, it seems that some group of Atheists found it and spread the word among their cohorts. When this happened, I started receiving literally dozens of e-mails telling me I was wrong and asserting how stupid I was (It is a lot to look at, but if your would like to see the video and the responses, you will find it at: http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=o-dG73tl_bE&feature=em-comment_reply_received). Even though it has taken a lot of my time, I have answered every one of the taunts. Most, when confronted with my retorts, simply quit writing. There have been others, however, who have continued to try and convince me that their beliefs are right. There have been a few who have tried to conduct the conversation in a reasonable manner, but by far the large majority have simply resorted to unsubstantiated assertions and insults. This is probably an extreme example of the extreme sport of Christian witness, but certainly makes the point of what I am talking about.
The more usual example will be the unchurched person you work with or who is your neighbor. Many of these people probably went to church when they were young. Some were even baptized as a child and self-identify as a Christian. But while they may not be openly hostile to church, they also don’t fully believe the Bible. Many of them will argue that the theory of evolution is true or that karma is real or that all religions worship the same God as Christians, only by a different name.
What we, as Christians, must realize is that these people are not Christians. No matter what they call themselves, in truth they are followers of a different religion. And, as with the hard core Atheists, sharing Christ with these people is not necessarily just the straightforward “share the gospel” kind of proposition. They will resist when you challenge the non-Christian elements of their faith. They will have a difficult time understanding the “narrowness” of your insistence on them giving up those beliefs to follow Christ. Even in these more common situations, we are in the arena of “Extreme Christian sports.”
Dealing with a person’s worldview beliefs can be a difficult proposition. Most people simply can’t see past their worldview paradigm. So, if their worldview is non-Christian, or if it contains elements which are not Christian (even if they, themselves, claim to be Christians), sharing the gospel with them involves more than merely sharing the gospel message. It requires translating the message into a belief language which can be understood by the different worldview adherents.
This is the reason Christians must become proficient in their understanding of worldview. For those who really want to penetrate modern culture with the gospel message, simply saying the message will often not be enough. It is not simply a matter of people in the culture not believing our message, they literally understand reality to be structured differently than we do. They don’t believe God even exists, or they believe in many gods or they believe that transcendent reality is impersonal or they create their own boutique religion by mixing and matching from several worldviews. We can penetrate this. But to do so, we must take a step beyond our comfort zone and enter the world of Extreme Christian sports. In our current cultural environment, it is very difficult to do this without a grasp of worldview.
© 2012 Freddy Davis