Some years back an older saint pulled me aside and said something that floored me…
“Brother. There has never been an easier time to evangelise. Remind the youth of this opportunity”.
My initial response was disbelief. There has never been a more difficult time for Australian Christians. The acceptance of secular values, the impact of multiculturalism and the fear of extremism have challenged the place of Christianity in our society. This, compounded with the marginalisation of the Christian voice has made speaking up as a Christian more difficult.
Young Christians are not immune. They are trying to navigate a confusing and ever-changing world where the Biblical views of gender, sexuality, relationships and identity are tolerated less and less. All Christians – young and old – battle fear, marginalisation and harassment for holding a Christian worldview and sharing Jesus with their friends.
And yet, despite all the negatives, there’s three reasons this older saint believed that now is a great time for evangelism:
Christianity is no longer normal
One of the effects of the growth of secularism in Australia is that Christians stand out. Young people who call themselves Christian, who go to church and follow the teachings of Jesus, are in the minority.
Gone is the era where ‘Christianity’ is the norm. And this presents us with an amazing opportunity. It is now much easier for Christians to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt 5:13-14).
Our belief that Jesus is the King and saviour of the world is radically different to the humanistic beliefs of secularism. Our biblical views on humans, sexuality, relationships and contentment shine brightly in a world consumed by individualistic consumerism. Practicing Christians will stand out in our world.
The challenge for young Christians is to heed the warning of Jesus in Matthew 5. He does not call them to hide, be silent or compromise their beliefs, ethics and lifestyle. We need to help them see that people will insult and persecute them (5:11) as they did to Jesus.
Some of our youth face a genuine social cost for admitting their faith. In the midst of these challenges, we are to encourage them to shine brightly for Jesus. We are to model what it looks like to live for Jesus, celebrate our counter-cultural faith, and work hard at humbly and clearly articulating what we believe.
The nations have come to us
Multiculturalism has led to a proliferation of worldviews and beliefs in our country. This has complicated the ‘religious’ conversation, even creating fear in some Christians. However, this presents a wonderful opportunity for evangelism: the nations have come to us!
With Peter in Acts 10, we need to see that the gospel of Jesus is good news for all people, no matter their culture, language or religion.
It is no accident that the nations are in Australia and young Christians are their neighbours and school friends. These people need Jesus. Let’s encourage young Christians to let this reality shape their prayers. Let us pray with them for energy, wisdom and love to make the most of every opportunity God puts in our normal lives.
People are searching for hope and meaning
Despite advances in technology and material wealth, we live in an age where most people struggle to find hope and meaning. This is not surprising to Christians whose saviour said 2,000 years ago that life is not fulfilled by the abundance of possessions, experiences or knowledge (Luke 12:15). Secular humanism leaves people empty, hopeless, and even angry (Eccles 2:22).
In contrast, Christians are full of hope! We are certain that life does not end in death for those who trust Jesus (1 Cor 15:20). And we look forward to a world devoid of evil, suffering and sickness (Rev 21:4).
Whatever gospel outline we teach young people, it must contain this narrative of hope as a key component. Let’s encourage our youth to personally know the promises of God and how they have been made certain in the work of Jesus. God has not abandoned our secular world to its own folly but has sent Jesus to offer forgiveness of sin and genuine hope to our world.