By Justin Rossow
42 seconds. That’s less than a minute. That’s like, 50 heartbeats (for me), or 2 push ups (for me). 42 seconds is not much time.
But a lot can happen in 42 seconds. Four women can run a 4×100 relay and get an Olympic medal in less than 42 seconds. A football team can go the length of the field to come from behind and win in less than 42 seconds. And if you are driving the Bugatti Chiron “Supercar,” you can go from 0 to 400 kph (249 mph) AND back to a dead stop in less than 42 seconds. Well, you probably can’t; but a professional driver on a closed course can.
So 42 seconds isn’t a lot of time. But a lot can happen.
“42 Seconds” is also the title of a new book by Carl Medearis, a book that takes an open and honest look at the real-life implications of following Jesus in our everyday interactions.
Why “42 Seconds?”
If you take all of the interactions Jesus has with people in the Gospels, and read them out loud, and time them, they all average out to 42 seconds. Of course, that doesn’t count extended teaching like the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) or the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17). And of course, the Gospel writers didn’t copy down every word that was spoken or even try to give us a complete verbatim of every conversation. So it’s a rather inexact number. But it still helps us see that Jesus had real, ordinary, everyday conversations that didn’t take up a lot of time, but still had amazing impact. As the author puts it:
“Our lives are full of these short interactions, but we seem to be under the impression that they’re not overly significant. I’d like to challenge us to see them in a different light. After all, Jesus did.” (xi)
Throughout the entire book, real, ordinary conversations are held up as a means of growing in our faith and sharing our faith with the people around us: “Our goal is simply for Jesus to be a natural part of our lives and everyday interactions with people” (xii). I love the simplicity and profound insight, the invitation and challenge wrapped up in that goal.
So this is an Evangelism book?
No, not really… Well, kind of … Actually, it’s about following Jesus in your everyday communities and conversations. Is that “Evangelism?” Rather than strategically forcing Jesus into awkward conversations, this book wants to help Jesus be a natural part of your natural conversations. Carl explains it better:
“Jesus had conversations all the time with those who thought they were close to God and those who deemed themselves lost and without hope. He invited all of them to come learn from him …
This is good news for all of us. It frees us up to talk about the most important part of our lives in a way that’s natural, meaningful, and helpful instead of staged, clumsy, and irrelevant.” (xi)
So this isn’t a strategy or method on how to effectively share Jesus with unbelievers. It’s a practical encouragement to integrate following Jesus into the ordinary parts of your everyday and see what Jesus does with your 42-second conversation with a stranger, a neighbor, or a friend.
Haven’t I heard some of this before?
Yes! I mean, I hope so!
In fact, the four primary sections of the book align well to the way we have been talking about the kind of church we want to be. The section headings even sound like our core values:
- Section 1, Be Kind is all about Openness to people and expression;
- Section 2, Be Present is all about Connection through authentic relationship;
- Section 3, Be Brave invites us to struggle with Faithfulness to complex truth;
- and Section 4, Be Jesus asks us to live out Dependence on Jesus in the ordinary circumstances of our ordinary lives.
You might say the first half of the book is about “Seeking everyone’s story …” while the second half focuses on “… sharing in His story.”
Medearis has written a practical, how to book that aligns with St. Luke’s values and St. Luke’s mission statement. I’m looking forward to unpacking it more with you!
Let’s do this TOGETHER.
We fundamentally believe that we follow Jesus better when we follow him together. The “42 Seconds” Bible class starts on Sunday, April 22 at 9:42 a.m. Who could you invite to sit at your table and learn and discuss and dig into this book with you?
The sermon series starts on Sunday, April 29. Who will you invite to sit next to you in worship? Have you considered giving them a book with an invitation?
Each section in “42 Seconds” ends with small group discussion questions. Are you in a home group? Have you taken a break? Who could you invite to join? Whose group could you crash? Can you find a way to meet weekly for five weeks, starting the week of the 22nd?
If you aren’t in a group, what one other person could you talk to once a week for five weeks just to talk through what Jesus is shaping in your life and what response he is shaping in you?
It doesn’t matter how you do it; it does matter that you experience “42 Seconds” with someone else. Because we follow Jesus better when we follow him together. I like how Carl puts it:
“Human beings are hardwired for relationship.” (x)
That’s one fundamental reason why he invites us to “read and live [this book] in community” (xiii).
42 seconds isn’t a lot of time. But Jesus can do a lot with a little.
Our “42 Seconds” series is about developing the habit of thinking and speaking of Jesus faithfully in normal and non-heroic ways. That can be really scary at first. But it’s also an adventure, an adventure we’re on together.
I can’t wait to see what happens next!