Let me explain.
Tonight I was talking to my students about a fairly cringe-worthy subject related to idol worship; the whole context of the classic who-do-you-say-that-I-am business in Matthew 16; and beastly, sexual awkwardness in the public square of the Phillippi Jesus took his youth group (disciples) to. Jesus was asking the question in the midst of this craziness and I was trying to connect it to these hyped-up, ocular-stimulated students. I think it worked. People seemed challenged and some asked for prayer.
Afterward, a student walked up to me and asked, “Jon, quick question: when did these citizens sleep?”
Good question my freshly confirmed Methodist lad! Well, I avoided saying, fear gripped them to the point of forming a 24/7 house of sexual deviance. How is today that much different?
Actually, very different.
We are *post-Christian* and the goat-weary peeps of that time were *pre-Christian* pagans – a more suitable convert, I suppose. Now, I said none of this but the thought did cross my mind. I suppose trying to connect students to the necessary context of altar-worship-in-the-form-of-bestiality-that-Jesus-came-to-end-by-saying-he-was-going-to-build-a-church-on-THIS-rock, etc; adding to the power of Jesus to quell our fear, introducing us to new life, is messy but rewarding.
I say all that to say that my attempts to root their imagination in the context that Jesus was ministering, in order to load them up with the burden of the Kingdom, sometimes feels thwarted by the chasm of digital culture that hardly anyone is prepared for. I mean, come on, most of them were born after 9/11. They don’t even know life before outrage-culture. And according to this same student, the dab is dead…
(Moment of silence please.)
The words that did escape my mouth were that asking the question, “WWJD?” – as a student minister – was unhelpful in this contextual scenario. Imagine if I, the said minister, took my students to anything remotely close to what was going on in the text. Doing what Jesus would do would get my fired and defrocked entirely from the church. But actually, the point remains: in a *post-Christian* culture, answering the question Jesus asked is as important as ever.
Who do YOU say that I am? Jesus said.
Every generation has the burden of wrestling afresh with the same concerns and theological quandaries persons before them. None of us can afford to call it “won and done” by a previous generation. I’ve seen it happen, where the sacrifices made by one generation is not properly communicated to the next gen; and they, the one’s responsible for carrying on the tradition, have perceived the sacrifices made as law, and are consequently crushed under the weight!
You. Me. Us. We have to answer the question.
The answer, of course, is not as simple as repeating what Peter said. It is also joining Jesus in His work in the world. After all, isn’t that what the natural conclusion of such an answer is: “On this Rock I will build a church, and the gates of hell will not prevail!”
The digital revolution will not consume this Rock. It belongs to the church.