We live in a post-Christian, pluralistic world. We have atheist buddhists, catholic hindus, and agnostic muslims. Our world is one of smorgasbord religion. A friend of mine recently spoke at a conference about this very topic and pointed out that our world has brought about the first ever chur-mosq-agogue.
What is that?
How in the world is somebody Christian, Muslim, and Jewish at the same time? But this is the world we live in. In our neighborhoods, workplaces, and schools people are picking and choosing from the buffet of spirituality and figuring out their own thing.
Being in a post-Christian, pluralistic world means that we must understand that our culture is not shaped by the same values that many of us hold to as Christians. This means that our culture may be interested in spirituality but have some difficulty with the idea of an objective truth. As missionaries the message we have does not change, but the world that we go into is much different than it was even a generation ago.
Katy Perry resonates with this culture when she suggests:
“I'm not Buddhist, I'm not Hindu, I'm not Christian, but I still feel like I have a deep connection with God. I pray all the time—for self-control, for humility. There's a lot of gratitude in it. Just saying 'thank you' sometimes is better than asking for things.” - Katy Perry January 2013 Cover Story - Marie Claire
Our culture ultimately worships at the altar of self. They choose what works for them, when it works for them, and how it works for them. And because of this you get Catholics practicing a New Age mysticism, who are a little bit agnostic, but also believe in karma and re-incarnation.
It’s about whatever works for me.
This isn’t really completely foreign to the Scriptures; consider the mission that Paul has at Mars Hill.
“Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. - Acts 17:22-23
They are very spiritual and they are looking for something but they don't even realize what it is.
Doesn’t that describe our world? Our world is filled with people completely open to spirituality and the supernatural. And people are looking in all different places, religions, practices, and ideas for something that will help.
We live in a world full of people pursuing and building altars to all kinds of different gods. Some are actually connected to specific religions, others are simply a pursuit of wealth or fame. Both of which are often about worshipping one’s self.
And Paul says, “Let me tell you about the God you don’t know yet.”
And then he proclaims the hope of the Gospel. He proclaims the God who has made them his children. He proclaims the Good News of Jesus. And these spiritual, religious people who don’t know Jesus all of the sudden become Jesus followers. They didn't know what they were looking for and then Paul showed them exactly what was missing from their lives. The spiritual but not religious people all around us in our world are looking for Christ, they just don’t know it yet.