Which groups has Christianity addressed the most?
On the B-level of the Hauptwache: A group of people sings pious songs, one of them addresses passers-by and preaches. Hardly anyone feels addressed. Sometimes it is also people from other countries who appear in this way and want to win others over to the Christian faith. There may be something exotic or bizarre about it, but it is probably not really appealing.
What most people want is to be really addressed. When something is communicated to them, they want to experience: My interlocutor turns to me. I am valued as a person, I am important to the other person. It doesn't always happen. Often one talks past one another. And sometimes you prefer to be alone and want to have some peace and quiet. But if someone talks about himself and says: "This is important to me, it moves me" - then it can happen that two understand each other. And then it becomes important for both of them what one tells the other. These are special moments in life.
The story of Pentecost is about such a moment. The Bible tells how enthusiastic friends were about Jesus. He had been rejected and killed by the powerful of his time. But he continued to meet them, and his message was alive in their hearts. They were so “fire and flame” that they were able to bring this good news to other people with almost stormy enthusiasm. “We hear them speak of the great deeds of God in our tongues!” Said their contemporaries, as it is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 2, verse 11). That means: You felt addressed.
Then as now, however, it is a minority who feel addressed by the message of Jesus. Christian faith can no longer be taken for granted. Religion has become a private matter. Many different religions are practiced in a multicultural city like Frankfurt. Many people see themselves as atheists and cannot do anything with a belief in God.
In this situation the Church is faced with the question of how she should pursue a mission and convey the Christian faith. Especially since the term “mission” is burdened. In the past, Christianity was sometimes spread by force. The colonial rule of the West over peoples in Africa, Asia and Latin America was often associated with proselytizing. Mission was understood as the expression of a Christian claim to superiority.
Even so, the Church cannot ignore the task of mission. Church is only there where Christians share their faith, i.e. trust in God in the sense of Jesus, with others - in the hope that they will feel addressed. The personal conversation is particularly important. This certainly takes courage, as always when you talk about something that is personally important to you. But only then will the conversation about faith be really engaging.
I remember a visit I made in preparation for a baptism with the parents of a premature child. They told me about the weeks when the newborn was struggling for its life in the hospital. During this difficult time, praying always gave them new strength. Her trust in God had grown under the strain. It was moving and convincing to hear. And it was mission in the best sense of the word: Christians speak of their experience of believing in God. That spoke to me - and in her words God also touched me.
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