I'd love to see every devotee of the 40 Days of Purpose resource move on to a 40 Days of Pluralism resource (which does not yet exist, as far as I know!). This is the P-word where the biggest challenge lies for followers of Jesus today. Pluralism considers that there are multiple roads up the mountain to God and no one road has the 'right of way'... and certainly not Christianity!!
With new religions in our schools, new ethnicites in our suburbs, new spiritualities in our cafes and that old tolerance rated as the highest virtue in the land ... articulating a case for the uniqueness of Jesus' person and the sufficiency of Jesus' work on the cross is an ability that every follower of Jesus needs to have. However my sense is that churches are filling the 'too-hard' basket with this stuff and just ignoring this the biggest challenge of all.
Let me try and make a start. Here is an outline of my first 4 Days of Pluralism:
Day One: live the tension
Jesus is described as being 'full of grace and full of truth'. This is something at which we aim. Gracious, always gracious with people (like Jesus) ... but not always gracious with people's ideas (like Jesus) - because we are committed to truth. All human beings can be equally valuable without all human ideas being equally valid. A follower of Jesus in a pluralist world will find that an occasional gracious intolerance must mark their lives.
Day Two: switch the lens
We all live with a worldview, a way of looking at the world. This worldview operates a bit like a lens as it shades all that we see. A lens is something we look 'through', not something we look 'at'. Pluralism provides such a lens for people - and so does the Bible (see my earlier blog on 'the chairs'). Whatever it is in which we soak our lives, that is what will tend to provide our lens on life. I submit to you that the vast majority of followers of Jesus are soaking more in a world drenched with pluralism than they are in a world absorbed with the Bible and the Jesus it reveals. In other words, they are looking 'through' pluralism 'at' the Bible. They need to switch lenses and look 'through' the Bible 'at' pluralism. How do you do this, you may ask? Don't get me started!! Systematic biblical preaching & serious theological training is where it starts with this one...
Day Three: sow the seed
We need to go on the offensive a bit. It is not just about that more defensive "always give a reason for the hope that you have (1Peter3:15)" approach. There is also the more offensive "prepare your minds for action (1Peter1:13)" approach. The key to this offense? Ask questions from the couch; don't make exclamations from the soap box. Sow seeds of doubt. Probe for weaknesses in the pluralist's approach. There are many. What are they? Maybe you can suggest some... Some of those most intolerant people of all are the defenders of tolerance!
Day Four: fly the flag
I fear that followers of Jesus are too burdened by this challenge. The intellectual stuff is beyond us, so we hibernate. The intimidation stuff is too scary for us, so we freeze. No! No! No! Pluralism makes a space for Christianity. Its kinda like the Blossom Festival in Alexandra each year. We have our own float in the parade of religions. We need to fill that space, adorn that float, with all that we are. Fly the flag! Get the focus on Jesus (not religion, or church, or Christianity) and then boldly bear witness to him in the best way we can. With our mouths. With our choices. With our attitudes. The Spirit can do the rest. Our job is primarily to witness, not to win. We can all bear witness. And if people think it is foolishness or it is offensive OR we suffer a bit for doing so - so be it! The New Testament teaches us to expect that response.
There you go - 36 more days to go! With your help, maybe it will be a best-seller!