In my Sunday School class, our focus is presently on the question, “Who is Jesus?” It’s a foundational question for us who profess to follow Him. My dad, who teaches the class, asked us, “If someone on the street asked you, ‘Who is Jesus?’ what would you say?”
We had some discussion about what we would say, and we had some intense discussion before determining that the answer would depend, in part, on who was asking.
In an interview, N.T. Wright was asked a similar question, and I found his answer interesting:
Trevin Wax: So how would you share all of this with an individual in the evangelistic task, if an individual were to come up and to say, “What must I do to be saved?” “How can I become a part of this…”
N.T. Wright: I would want to know a lot about where they were coming from. I mean, if I had two minutes, I would tell very, very simply the story of Jesus.
I once on a train was approached by a Japanese student who saw me reading a book about Jesus. He didn’t know much English. He said, “Can you tell me about Jesus?” I was about to get off the train. I simply told him (he didn’t know the story) that there was this man who was a Jew. He believed that God’s purposes to rescue the whole world were coming to fulfillment. He died to take the weight of evil upon himself. He rose to launch God’s project and to invite the whole world to join in with it and find it for themselves. How long did that take me? 35 seconds? That’s more or less it.
However, when I think of the real people that I meet, I think both of bright university students in Durham University and of unemployed mineworkers in the pit village five miles down the road. Total, total disjunct. And I really believe…
Look at what Paul does in Acts. No two speeches are alike. OK, he will have repeated himself here and there, but he says it the way these people need to hear it.
And though the story is very simple… If someone were to say, “What must I do to be saved?” I’d be inclined to say, “Are we talking about rescuing your mortgage or your marriage or your eternal salvation or what?” because people have layer upon layer upon layer of things to be saved from. We can deal with all of them, but we have to find where the shoe pinches for them and then that’s the point of entry into an authentic grounding of the gospel in their reality.