Lovewell: A Theology - Day 19

Day 19
Acts 17:22-26
22 So Paul, standing before the council, addressed them as follows: “Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, 23 for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about. 24 “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples, 25 and human hands can’t serve his needs—for he has no needs. He himself gives life and breath to everything, and he satisfies every need. 26 From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries.

Paul was used to speaking in relevant ways. He was well traveled, and as he went from place to place, he had to speak in a vernacular that made sense to the people around him. This pericope is a perfect example of speaking in a relevant language to those around him.

I was once in the Netherlands, Holland, speaking at a youth convention there. As you can imagine, I had a translator; a great guy. He, however, was not super well versed in Southern California culture. What this means is that when I used a surfing illustration, or said “dude” too many times, he would start to get confused. I, of course, didn’t know this until people started yelling back at him in Dutch. It was super confusing to me, but when it was explained it made sense. I was not speaking a language or a culture that they understood at all. While some in the audience knew enough English to understand, the rest were as lost as my translator was.

Paul recognized the importance of relevance to the conversation about God that he was about to have with these leaders of the town. Therefore, when he mentions that there is a God that they worship that has no name, they knew exactly what he was talking about. He was bringing the ways of Jesus into their reality and their space and time.

When you share your understanding of Jesus, how can you find ways that are relevant to the language and culture of those who you are speaking to? We, as Christians, have a language and a culture of our own. We often forget that other people don’t understand our references, might not know the backstories that we know so well, and are confused by our cultural understanding of faith.

It is not their fault, but it is our responsibility to share the gospel thoughtfully with them. If Jesus was willing to meet us where we are, then we should be willing to meet others where they are as well. It is not up to them to make sense of what we know, it is up to us to share with them in ways that are relevant, thoughtful, winsome, and interesting.

But I do want to put one caveat here. I know that we talk about sharing the gospel a great deal. But I hope that I never put undue pressure on anyone with this language. I truly believe that when we decide to lovewell we are sharing the gospel. We don’t have to stand on a soapbox to let the gospel be heard. In fact, we really just have to work on how we love those around us and each other to be constantly and consistently sharing the gospel. It is not always about the language you use, it is about the love that you are willing to give.

  1. How have you shared the gospel by way of love today? 
  2. Have you ever felt undue pressure to share the gospel? 
  3. What is a way that you can comfortably give love to those around you? 
  4. Is there a greater way to share the gospel than to give love and hope by your interactions with others? 

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