I don’t want to belabor the ‘problem statement’ too much before getting into some thoughts on the solution, but I think it’s wise to go one level deeper before moving on.
Let’s briefly elaborate on ‘core’, ‘fringe’, and ‘world’ then conclude with “so what?”
These are obviously genuine believers in Jesus Christ. They know their Bibles, or are working hard at knowing their Bibles. Internally, they struggle to think and act as Christ would, whether that is popular or not. When they mess up, it really hurts yet move on in God’s forgiveness. The core is seen by the fringe and the rest of the world as generally loving and ‘good’ but also a threat to principles they hold dear such as ‘tolerance’ and ‘relative truth’. The core’s firm belief in one God and one Savior makes the world and the fringe very uncomfortable, and this causes constant friction with these groups yet also unites the core in one Faith.
These are obvious non-believers in Jesus Christ. Whether they label themselves athiest, agnostic or a believer in some other faith or cult, all deny one of the beliefs that make Christianity, Christianty. These include historic essentials such as the diety of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the return of Christ. In general, these people are not upset by being called ‘non-Christian’, for they are not trying to be Christian.
For those thinking I’m being kindof black and white, here is the gray area…the vague overlap of the ‘core’ and the ‘world’. The ‘fringe’ includes those people who would call themselves a Christian but who think and act differently from either the world or the core. People in the fringe may or may not be ‘regenerated’ (born again). Some are genuine believers and simply immature; others are not believers but really like being in community with other believers. Regardless, they all look about the same; they have little knowledge of the Bible, little motivation of study it on their own, little motivation to be more like Christ, and little motivation to act as Christ would act in situations where that “Christlike action” comes with personal risk or sacrifice. Their focus is largly on conforming to the norms of the “church” community; and, because the ‘church’ community is mostly fringe (more on this in a later post), these norms align more with the world’s guidance on how to become happy and comfortable and less with God’s guidance.
So, what does this mean? It means that you, the reader, fall into one of these groups. If you are in the world, you probably don’t care much about any of this. If you are in the fringe, I am praying that God would call you to the core. If you are in the core, I’m praying you might help me help those in the fringe whom God is calling to the core get there.
More to come…