The Opportunity Ahead - March 2023
Writing for the Daily News recently, Bradley Tusk wrote, “Look at any poll or just ask anyone who passes you on the street—this is a very unsettling time to live in. We are highly fractionalized. Highly polarized. Extremely uncertain. People feel lost. Scared. Lonely. They need purpose. Structure. Hope. Community.”
We are in a unique moment in American History, and world history where people are desperate for real community.
We know that there are at least “65 Million Dones” in America right now. These folks are “done with church” but they are not “done” with Jesus. Market Research done weekly by one of the He Gets Us partners, McQueen Analytics, survey 800 people each week about the “He Gets Us” ads… And consistently, the surveys show that people want to know more about Jesus.
And here are the four top reasons people want to know more about Jesus:
He was a man of peace
He was approachable
He was forgiving
He loves everyone
Yet, there is a disconnect between what people believe about Jesus and what they think about Christians. Barna did some research to determine how well followers of Jesus are representing Jesus to the culture. In their study, they found that only 14% of today’s self-identified Christians—just one out of every seven Christians—seem to represent the actions and attitudes consistent with those of Jesus.
David Kinnaman, the President of Barna, wrote about this in his book UnChristian. “In the research he also discovered that 84% of young non-Christians say they know a Christian personally, but only 15% say the lifestyles of those believers are noticeably different in a good way.
This is a moment in time when if we want to reach our culture, the church, the ekklesia, must be salt and light, to accurately represent Jesus, perhaps as never before.
Jesus said to love God, love our neighbors, and to even love our enemies. And then He said, if we do this well, then the world will know that we are His disciples.
Unfortunately, as the Barna research shows us, we are not currently known for our love for one another. Instead, we are known for our division, our judgement and our criticism. The early church was known for its love for one another. And I believe we can be known for our love once again.
The early church was known for its radical love and radical devotion to Jesus and one another. You can read a second century description of the early church in a manuscript called the Epistle to Diognetes (see at the end).
At Vision Orlando, we can be a catalyst for this transformation in our own city. And this will happen to the degree that believers in our city really begin to get to know and love one another, so much so that the world takes notice!
Our prayer breakfast is just one small step in the process of helping to build the social capital of our community. And according to many sociologists, building social capital in a community is the essential building block for community transformation and health. And as the ekklesia, the followers of Jesus should be taking the lead in this process in our community.
Imagine what our city could look like, if many of those who love Jesus, determine that they are going to be intentional in their love one for another. This starts by focusing on what we have in common, rather than focusing on that upon which we disagree, And then as we build relationships with other followers of Jesus who may look and think differently than us on many things, the social capital in our community begins to strengthen, and we can begin to ask “what can we do together for the Kingdom and for our community?”
“AS THE EKKLESIA, THAT WHICH BINDS US TOGETHER IS MUCH GREATER THAN THOSE THINGS UPON WHICH WE DIFFER.”
Excerpt about the early Christians in a manuscript written in AD 130 called Epistle to Diognetes:
"For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life. They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word -- what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world."