What happens when I start preaching about "eternal life" and "salvation"?
9 times out of 10 ... everyone checks out. They think I'm not talking to them.
The Christians in our community
They think they already have "eternal life" and "salvation." They already know about it. They're ready to move on to "deeper things." Predestination. Eschatology. Phrenology ... whatever.
But often our understanding of "eternal life" and "salvation" is confined to a future orientation. "Eternal life" stays stuck as "life after death." "Salvation" remains "salvation from hell." These are real understandings, but partial. Half-truths.
Eternal life doesn't begin at death. Eternal life begins now. It's life now that goes on and grows forever. And the same goes for salvation. The salvation Jesus brings extends beyond hell.
And so, these conversations are relevant.
The folks in our community who are not Christians
We want to be open to the whole campus community. At times, this means we'll have people in the room who assume that the conversation, especially when it involves religious sounding words, is meant for someone else. They are our friends, so they'll hang in there with us, but they get bored.
And this is a big part of the problem with using words like "eternal life" and "salvation." Few people in the secular world have the vanity to claim a pursuit of eternal life or the desperation to sling around words like 'salvation.'
But we're all looking to avoid joblessness, meaninglessness, loneliness. Salvation, in another word. And as awkward as it is to say it, we all want to live our best lives now. We want full life and we want it to go on and on.
These are nearly universal, human searchings.
So, why do people think we aren't talking to them?