“One of the things I do when I meet people is ask them, ‘What is Christianity?’ Undoubtedly half will respond, ‘A relationship with Jesus.’
“That is wrong. The gospel cannot be merely a private transaction. God didn’t break through history, through time and space, to come as a babe, be incarnated, and suffer on the cross just so you can come to him and say, ‘Oh, I accept Jesus and now I can live happily ever after.’ That’s not why he came. . . . Jesus came as a radical to turn the world upside down. When we believe it is just about Jesus and yourself, we miss the whole point.
“I even dislike using the words ‘accept Christ’ anymore—because it is so much more than that. Christianity is a way of seeing all of life and reality through God’s eyes. That is what Christianity is: a worldview, a system, and a way of life. I believe that when you truly see the gospel in its fullness, it’s so much more. It is the most exciting, radical, revolutionary story ever told.”
—Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship (qtd. on pp. 85-86 of unChristian by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons)
“Many modern-day Christians have lost touch with the all-encompassing gospel that goes beyond personal salvation and reaches every corner of society. When conversion growth is the single measure of success, the hard work of discipleship gets ignored. When Christian faith is relegated to a personal, spiritual decision about where you will spend the afterlife, the here and now matters less. When being a Christian can be determined by whether you ‘prayed the prayer,’ the focus shifts easily to who is in and who is out. As a result, Christians can be found primarily on the edges of society, pointing their fingers at outsiders, judging and condemning them. Subsequently, the lifestyle of being Christian shifts from being winsome and engaging to pessimistic and manipulative. Many have separated themselves from the world and unknowingly mimic the actions of the Pharisees for whom Jesus had the most contempt when he walked the earth.
“Losing the theology and practice of common grace and focusing on conversion over discipleship have contributed greatly to Christianity’s perception problem. When we no longer know what it means (much less care) to be salt and light among those in our culture and to be an influence for good, we forfeit our role as agents in Christ’s kingdom. As I’ve observed current culture, examined church history, and wrestled with Scripture, it seems clear to me that the source of these negative perceptions is a poorly understood and lived expression of Christianity.”
—Gabe Lyons, unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity . . . and Why It Matters (coauthored with David Kinnaman), p. 222