One of the most beautiful things in the Bible is seeing how Jesus got alongside damaged, hurting, and broken people and loved them. Think of the Samaritan woman who collected water in the middle of the day when ‘respectable’ women were at home in the shade. For whatever reasons, this poor woman was already onto bloke number six. Life can’t have been easy for her. But Jesus gently, kindly, and compassionately showed her the grace of God. He lovingly spoke gospel–truth into her situation and offered her new life. That’s why he came.
She then went back to her town and told everyone, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.”
This was a damaged women who, having met Jesus, was now in recovery, and was telling other damaged people where salvation, transformation, hope, and life may be found. Wonderfully, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in [Jesus] because of the woman’s testimony…”
Truth is, we’re all damaged and hurt and broken! We are damaged, hurt, and broken both by our own sin and by the sin of others. Christians are people in recovery. Through Jesus, we are all recovering from when we tried to do life without God. But our evangelism (our personal evangelism) seldom reflects much of that. We often give the impression of being ‘sorted’ as we awkwardly blurt out a series of propositional truths that we want people to understand – think of your favourite gospel outline. They are wonderful and vital truths and, yes, of course we long to share them with our friends – not least because we love them. But from their point of view it may not feel like we love them… or understand them. It may feel a bit disconnected – the proverbial crunching of gears.
Things we all have in common gives us another angle for sharing the gospel: an angle that recognises the issues, struggles and mess that mark and mar each one of us – regardless of how we like to present ourselves. In this, it puts us firmly alongside our friends. It then shows how God lovingly and graciously speaks into the suffering, struggles, and sinful mess we are all in – pointing us in each chapter to the master physician – the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s a book to give away. It’s guaranteed to be relevant because every chapter is about something we all have in common – though for each person there will be certain chapters that will feel immediately pertinent. They can start there. The order doesn’t matter.
If appropriate, it’s a book to meet up and discuss. Each chapter ends with a few questions to get you started. It will get you talking about identity, anxiety, fear, desire, addiction, shame – things that, whether we are Christian or not, we all have in common. But best of all, it will help you to see together how, through the gospel of Jesus Christ, the human condition meets unconditional grace – bringing hope, forgiveness, and life to all who will put their faith in Him. It ends by showing us the Bible’s invitation to have eternally important things in common with Jesus: His relationship with God – enabling us to call God ‘Father’, His righteousness, His resurrection, His image, His inheritance – all far better than merely having things in common with each other!
Pete Jackson has been an Anglican pastor for twenty years – the last fourteen as vicar of a church on a council estate and former mining community in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. He is married to Sharon, and they have three children.