Monday, 5 April 2010

Heads and hearts

Giving away Easter eggs at Easter - along with invites to the Easter services - in the centre of one of the great cities of the world is hardly the most radical approach to evangelism ever invented.

First and foremost it is an attempt to make a positive connection with a society from which I think the church has become increasingly disconnected. Oddly enough it seems that as we have grown ever more like the world we are trying to reach, we seem to have become more distant from it. Now that is odd.

These sorties into the heart of places where Mammon has his throne are actually very enlightening as well as enjoyable.

Time and again the feedback is of people who have never been told before that God loves them. Of people disarmed by Christians who smile and give something away gratis.

My most interesting moment came when I had a conversation with a couple of late 20 perhaps early 30 somethings. They were giving away a flyer entitled "Sex Sells". It was all a gimmick to promote a brand of designer jeans.

We had a little chat about church and religion. They didn't attend church because they were very busy and he was an agnostic to boot. But they did have a great respect for the church and what it does for young people. This busy agnostic really did surprise me when he said that he was shocked by the lack of manners in society today. Things just weren't what they used to be.

What he didn't seem to realise, or at least if he did, it had no bearing on his actions, was that the kind of unmannerly behaviour that so upset him was the result of the same kind of outlook that promoted jeans by using fairly obvious sexual imagery.

It reminded me of what David Baddiel said in an interview. When asked about his Jewishness he explained that he was “an atheist in my head but a Jew in my heart”.

I wonder how many people live with a head that is uninformed by the heart? They have accepted the storyline of secularism - no God, here by chance, make up your own meaning of life, and everything is okay so long as it does no-one any harm - but deep in their hearts they long for the kind of society that has its roots in Christianity and its Jewish mother.

What is it like to live with a heart and head that don't match? Who knows. Perhaps a gnawing sense that something is not right. A sense of disappointment with the world. A deep frustration in not having any way to make sense of it all. And there you have the condition of the Western world.

For sure this doesn't compare with the suffering of many millions in the developing world whose lives are blighted with war, famine and pestilence. But that is the society we are trying to reach. And the man of sorrows who is familiar with suffering died to save the disconnected peoples of the West as much as He died for anyone else. Western people are alienated from God and consequently have become alienated from themselves as well.

The conversation ended with an "If you ever want to talk..." and they both took a flyer with our church details. It wasn't quite Philip meeting the Ethiopian and explaining Isaiah 53, but at least it gave someone the chance to talk about what was really going on in his heart.

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