Sharing a cancer cure

June 19, 2008

church / culture / ministry

When I was in high school and began getting to know Jesus, it was trendy to compare sharing one’s faith to having a cure for cancer that the world desperately needed. If only we would go out and tell people about our cure, they would come to us to receive it and be healed of their various deadly conditions. After all, what cancer patient would turn down an offer for a cure? Other popular comparisons were made to rescuers offering a lifeboat to people who were drowning, firefighters offering rescue from a burning building, and so on.

I very strongly wanted, and still very strongly want, to introduce Jesus to people that didn’t know him. I don’t remember ever using this kind of disease rhetoric when discussing faith with anyone, and I’m positive that if I did use it, it didn’t work and I would happily apologize to anyone with whom I may have used it.

Theologically, the idea of a cancer cure is not a bad concept. Humanity is messed up, and we all know it. I believe that one of the reasons that postmodernism exists is that modernism, with all of its science and objectivity and reason and knowledge, could not stop the most technologically advanced society of the 1930s from putting people into ovens. Following this time period, people earnestly questioned their knowledge and reason, and the idea of an innate human goodness.

Also, I don’t think there is a theological issue with the idea that Jesus can help us in our messiness. Many people, Christian and not, would agree for various reasons.

My issue is with the environment into which we are expected to put that concept. In post-Christendom, we as Christians are much more likely to be viewed as a cancer that needs a cure, contributing to the horror of the world in which we live, than we are to be viewed as people that might have a way to make the world a better place.

Especially in a conversation with a new friend or acquaintance, the idea that I have a cure or vaccine for the world’s problems because I’m a Christian is going to be met with ridicule at best, and a lifelong rejection of any consideration of Jesus at worst.