Grace Notes: Wait, wait, I know the answer

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By Nancy Kennedy

The answer is: Lamar Lundy.
He was one of the “Fearsome Foursome,” the starting defensive end of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s.
It’s one of my husband’s favorite sports trivia stumpers.
He says most sports fans can name Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones, but for some reason Lamar Lundy stumps them, although that’s the one name I always remember.
Once my husband and I thought we could make some easy money. He’d be in a place where a bunch of sports fans were trying to recall all four Fearsome names, and as I walk in my husband would say, “Ten dollars says my wife can name all four.”
After everyone sizes me up and correctly assesses that I know zip about sports and antes up, I’d say, “That’s easy — Rosey Grier, Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones and Lamar Lundy.”
 Then we’ll walk away $50, $60, $70 richer.
So far that hasn’t happened. I know the answer, but no one’s asking the question.
When it comes to Christians sharing their faith, it’s a similar situation. We believe that Jesus is the answer.
He’s the answer to your relationships not working, to your financial woes, your addiction, your confusion and guilt, to your not being able to sleep because of worry. He’s the answer to your need for salvation. He’s the answer to why you’re here on earth.
The problem is, not too many in this post-modern, post-Christian culture are asking the questions.
At one time, Christians could stop people on the street and ask if they’re born again — and if they answered no, they could tell them how to be and it might be a welcomed message. Good news even.
At one time, the general public had at least a familiarity with the Bible and religious language, but not so much today.
Today, sin and salvation, eternity, grace and the need for forgiveness aren’t everyday concepts. God isn’t a given. For many, goodness and evil are relative terms.
In the late 1990s, Doug Schaupp, then with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship on the UCLA campus, observed 37 college students who came to faith in Christ. He discovered five phases or stages they each went through and theorized that these five stages of growth and transformation are the same for most, if not all, postmoderns.
Although every person is unique and the length of time spent in each stage varies, the five stages are:
1. Developing a trust of a Christian by building an authentic, genuine friendship and not a “project” relationship where the person feels like prey or a conquest.
“The burden is on us as Christians to build trust with them and prove that we are different from all of their negative views of Christians,” Schaupp wrote in an article called “Five Thresholds of Postmodern Conversion.”
2. They become curious about spiritual things; 3. They become open to the possibility of following Jesus, but remain passive; 4. They begin to actively seek becoming a Christian and 5. They cross the line and give their lives, their hearts and intellect over to following Christ.
If that’s true and shotgun, “man on the street,” methods of evangelism that worked in the past are now ineffective at best and often counter productive, what do we do with Jesus? He’s still the answer; that hasn’t changed.
Here’s what I think: As Christians today, instead of shouting the answer to people with their fingers in their ears, wouldn’t it make more sense to make sure our lives provoke the question: “What’s different about you?”  
It would mean living out our faith with authenticity, loving without strings, demonstrating repentance and genuine humility, being vulnerable and transparent. It would mean entering others’ worlds and not expecting them to come to us, and, as Schaupp says, “not being in a rush to press them into the Kingdom.”  
When our lives cause people to ask questions, then when we give them the answer (“Jesus”), they’ll want to listen and hopefully respond.