I was thinking the other day about Jordan Peterson, and why his message of “get your life together” is so attractive to alienated young men. Why is he – a secular prophet – able to speak so well into peoples lives? And why is the church seemingly unable to speak the same way?
Jordan has a message. He articulates the problem well, however the solution “sort yourself out”, while having some impact, ultimately falls short.
But, it is a message that resonates. And, it resonates because it is the secular version of the call to repentance.
And that matters.
Because we know we are not all that we should be, and we want to be more. And, to be honest, a lot of us want to be challenged to be more than indolent dissipating failures.
So, where is the church falling short? Why can Jordan reach people with a partial message, whereas we have a message of real hope? I think the answer can be encapsulated in that one word – Repent! To often we skim over the problem, the mess we would really rather not look too closely at, in order to quickly arrive at the solution.
In other words, we want our grace free, and cheap too, thank you.
We don’t want to see the real and lasting damage our sin does to us and all those around us. Because facing up to that is too painful. Better to give it lip service and move on.
Only, we can’t. Because it is not that easy. It has been said that the deepest human need is to be forgiven. Not food, not shelter, not love (all of which are essential). But rather to be forgiven.
“Whoever has been forgiven little loves little (Luke 7 v47)” Yes, but that is not because they did not sin much. But because they have not really understood how much they needed to be forgiven in the first place.
So, the Church which proclaims the solution – Jesus, who bore all our sins – without ever fully articulating the problem, is a Church that is not bringing the full gospel to a hurt and needy world.
If you don’t face people with who they are, the real and lasting pain of all our sin, then you can never profess Jesus in a way that makes any sense.
In short – for the Church to proclaim Jesus, we must first call all to repent. Then, and only then, do we have a message that will speak to everyone’s deepest need.
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord
Acts 3 v19.