One of the things that Paul asks people to pray for him is that he will explain the good news clearly, as he should (Col 2:4). One of my greatest fears as a Christian and a preacher is that I will make the word of God less clear – that I will hinder people from understanding what God has made abundantly clear. God is in the business of revealing himself to people, and we must not be in the business of obscuring what he has made clear. This is especially so when we explain the core message – the good news of the gospel. If we get it wrong, or are fuzzy about it, or just fail to tell it, the potential consequences for the other person are eternal.
It’s one of the things that we need to constantly work on, since our culture is constantly changing. What was abundantly clear to most people 30 years ago (eg that there is such a thing as reality – ultimate truth), is no longer so. What we could assume that people would already know about God and the Bible is totally different these days (The Centre for Public Christianity recently commissioned a survey in which most of the respondents couldn’t say how many testaments there are in the bible, nor answer the most basic questions about Christianity). And these days it involves understanding many world-views, as our culture is less and less uniform. As the apostles used different language to explain the same good news to Jews and Greeks, so we need to be able to explain it clearly to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, agnostics and probably many more, depending on your circle of friends, family and colleagues. It’s a big challenge, but so it was for Jesus, who had to work hard at incarnating himself into our world. Our friends and colleagues from other backgrounds can help us with that, as we listen to them and understand their beliefs and values.
We want all our friends to be able to say “Now I get it!” when we explain the good news to them, as we make it so clear that at least they understand, even if they don’t believe. We also need to be fervently praying, because we know that true understanding is a gift from God.