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Amphibious Christians

The following is from an article titled, “Amphibious Christians Make the Best Contemporary Evangelists” by Anglican Bishop and professor Todd Hunter, published online in the Alpha Library. It is shared with us by Jim and Becky Valekis who serve the GCI congregation in Tipp City, OH. Jim is senior pastor and Becky coordinates discipleship ministries. They have successfully used the Alpha Course for discipling seekers and believers.

To be amphibious means to have the ability to combine two characteristics. Think of animals that are equally comfortable in and out of water, for example. Amphibious Christians are well suited to evangelism today because helping a friend come to faith requires the ability to dive into that friend’s world, to closely interact with a co-worker or neighbor, to engage in honest and deep conversation without losing all values, truth, faith, confidence, etc. Such people have the capacity to live uncompromising lives in harmony with both churched and non-churched colleagues. They are able to live at ease in two worlds. They peacefully follow the incarnational model of Jesus who was in the world, but not of it. Jesus was able to be a fully participatory member of his community. It was precisely within the routines of his normal human life that he “only did and spoke as the Father directed” (John 5).

Jesus invites us into exactly that same kind of life… His invitation is that we, through the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, would live our normal lives as he would live them if he were in our place…. Here is a Jesus-centered, Spirit-enabled vision for effective, peace-filled contemporary evangelism through amphibious living. Jesus said:

The Father has given me all these things to do and say. This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge. No one knows the Son the way the Father does, nor the Father the way the Son does. But I’m not keeping it to myself; I’m ready to go over it line by line with anyone willing to listen.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message).

…Jesus is inviting his followers into the very intimacies of the Trinity. He is willing to show anyone willing to learn how to live Father-child amphibious living—the way he did it. He says such a life can be lived in “the rhythms of grace.” This means such a life does not need to be forced, over-religious, striving. In fact, he says such a life is free and light. It is the good life.

“Todd”, you may say, “this is all cool, but connect the dots to evangelism.” Okay, here is how they connect: seekers crave people who can meet them on their terms. It takes truly amphibious Christians to do that. Seekers want to see that our relationship to God “works”… They know life stinks around most of the world for various reasons. They don’t just have in mind systemic evil like poverty, gender inequality and global destruction. They are thinking of their unjust boss, unloving kids and unfaithful spouse. They want to find a way to do life. They are searching for a Master to follow for life. They suspect that if there is a God as we say that he might have the keys to “the good life.” We of course say: “Yes! He does. They are the keys to the Kingdom and they have been given to all who trust and follow Jesus.”

Amphibious, authentic, generously-spirited Christians…are really refreshing and hope-giving to seekers.