Have you heard this one? Or maybe you’ve said it: “In the old days everyone went to church,” it goes, “but these days they have their sport, their phones, their Netflix etc, and how can we compete with that? Young people are being taught X and Y and school and on TV, and how can we possibly compete with that?”
Such talk follows a predictable script that ends with a shrug and a ‘What can you do?’ But it doesn’t have to. Such a conversation can be transformed into a holy moment.
What can we do? We can repent for starters! For whenever we hold up Netflix, footy, property ownership, Marxism or sex as something against which Christ has little chance, we are saying that such a thing is greater than Him, that its gospel is better than his. That’s idolatry on our part.
Can’t compete? We’re not meant to compete! There’s nothing that compares with Christ. He is not yet another product in a long line-up of life-fulfillment-possibilities. He is the life. His kingdom is the only lasting thing.
Even in the sharp teeth of the Roman Empire, even from its prison cells or facing its executions – even from right under its enormous foot – we don’t see the New Testament writers despairing that Christianity can’t possibly compete on such an unfair playing ground. No, they fully expected that the empire would indeed become the dust of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-statue, and Christ’s kingdom the lasting mountain. Even up against every difficulty and headwind, we are more than conquerors, says Paul.
We have the best news, the real Christ, the truest truth, the liveliest water. It’s unbecoming of us to take the stance of a worried competitor – it’s a false witness. Just as so many Australians are realising that the gods and ideologies they’ve been sold are lemons, if they see us looking bitter, they’ll assume Christ is just another one.
No, mission begins with the joy of knowing that the crucified Jesus is alive, reigns and will return. It begins with deep peace and confidence in the Spirit. Let that be the script of our conversations, and we go from there!
Did David ‘compete’ with Goliath? Discuss!
Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus. Check out their resources, ideas and recommendations at crossover.org.au
*Andrew Turner is the Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries