Recently, I sat next to a young man on a plane. As I often like to do I started up a conversation and learned that he was doing a PhD in medical science and was now travelling to Germany to do some hiking and climbing for a few weeks.
Somehow our conversation turned to languages and before I knew it I had opened my phone and we were talking about Bible Greek and I was showing him words and meanings that we find also in English. That is when I made my discovery. Everytime I went to a new word related to the gospel or Jesus, my seat partner wanted to know what it meant. You see, not only did he not understand the Christian message, he did not understand a lot of our Christian language.
The world of my parents was Christian. Nearly everyone went to church or had a church affiliation. Christian concepts and language were commonly understood. There was no question as to who God was, or the reason for Christmas and Easter. You could talk to your neighbour about religious things and they wouldn’t need much explanation.
Today, however, those living in Western secular countries live in what is termed a post-Christian society where children are growing up with no knowledge of God, Jesus, creation, the reason for sin and suffering or the Christian message of salvation through Jesus Christ. But rather than being a negative this can be good news for those of us called to make disciples.
The young man I sat next to knew nothing of these things, so when I began to share a little about Jesus and the gospel it was new to him. I found he wanted a better understanding of the meaning behind the words. And this is the opportunity. There’s often an interest to know more but take care not to over-share or to use language that is quite simply, foreign.
In Matthew 28:19 we are commanded to go and make disciples of all ethne or people groups. When I got off the plane I‘d gained a clearer understanding of this verse and that the work of making disciples to my post-Christian neighbour requires me to communicate the good news of Jesus in a way that may be foreign to me but makes perfect sense to my friend.