I just moved onto campus to begin my Junior year of college. I’m attending Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, MO. It’s an adorably small school that has an amazing emphasis on following Jesus and cultivating your spiritual life along with your academic and social life.
With such an emphasis on Christianity at such a small school, it is really simple to assume that everyone at the school has a relationship with Christ. However, a statistic I’ve heard tossed around in the past couple days is that only 33% of the student body actually knows Christ; many are here simply for academics or on sports scholarships. 33% is an astonishingly small percentage.
Therefore, a problem is created. You see, when you simply assume that those around you are Christians, you assume that they know the Gospel. You don’t feel the need to share the basics of the Gospel, or to probe deeper to see if they actually know Christ as their Savior; you are content with Christian terminology that flies over people’s heads, lofty concepts they may not understand.
Pastor Matt Agee at my church back in Des Moines put it excellently when he said, “Don’t assume the Gospel.” We can’t just assume the Gospel-we must make it explicit. The Merriam-Webster definition of explicit is ‘stated clearly and in detail, leaving no room for confusion or doubt’. This is how we have to treat the Gospel.
If we walk around presenting a cloudy version of the Gospel because we think people already know what Jesus has done for them, we run the risk of confusing those seeking out the truth and potentially, even pushing someone away because they never learn the fundamentals. If you don’t know otherwise, assume that people DON’T know the Gospel and act accordingly.
So, how do we make the Gospel explicit? To begin, we have to get rid of the cloudy Christian lingo that gets tossed around. Put things in plain, precise, clear terms so that they’re understandable to those who haven’t been raised in the Church or who are not Christians. We also need to be intentional about finding out whether or not people actually claim Jesus as their Savior. Especially when you’re on campus at a Christian school like me, this is something we can’t ignore. If you encounter someone who doesn’t know Christ, consistently unveil the Gospel in a way that makes sense to them.
John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” Jesus himself explained the Gospel in a way that made sense to those he was speaking to and that clearly communicated the truths of the Gospel. He made the Gospel explicit-let’s do the same.