Summary: Do you long to be able to share your faith with others but have great difficulty doing so? It might surprise you that even Apostles such as Peter, James and John had some difficulties with cross-cultural communication. What is the way forward for a Chu
A CALL FOR NEW MISSIONAL INITIATIVES -- Acts 11: 19-26
Yesterday -- the first Saturday in August -- is reckoned to be the happiest day of the year. To be even more specific: 7pm is the happiest moment of the happiest day of the year.
The statistics are based on a study of more than 9,000 people. It was discovered that they smiled most between 7pm and 8pm each day, enjoyed Saturdays the most and listed August as their favourite month of the year.
Over the last couple of years I have perceived that there is a new interest, even obsession, developing in the nation about happiness. I suspect it has blown across with the cultural trade winds from America, which people always seem to get there a bit ahead of us. Happiness is surely something to aspire to along with the experience of deep inner joy.
The Amplified Bible tells us:
1[a]BLESSED (HAPPY, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather.
2But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night.
There is no doubt that holding to true Christian values is the way to true joy and happiness. It does not promise a trouble free life but faith in God gives us an anchor, a hope, a foundation, a meaning to life and the presence and peace of God in times of uncertainty, suffering or difficulty.
People will find true happiness in a saving relationship with God through what Jesus has done for us on the cross.
We, the Church, have truly good news for others who have had no exposure to or understanding of the Gospel. God wills that others come to know the Good News and God continues to look to the Church to be the messengers.
Why is it that we have such difficulty in sharing the Gospel with others?
We are not alone in this. It might surprise you if I say that at times even some of the early apostles of Jesus had great difficulty with this -- including the Apostle Peter!
READING Acts 11:19-16
We should be ever grateful for the people who created the conditions that made it possible for us to believe -- whether by sharing the Gospel with us or preparing us through Sunday School -- whether parents or friends. God wills that we become the means by which others hear and believe also. But how do we do it?
I am nearing the end of a very interesting book entitled: 'You don't have to cross the Ocean to reach the World' by David Boyd.
There are some insights in the book that I have found fascinating. But the thesis is of the book is that bicultural people are the most suited to taking the Gospel across cultural barriers.
It may surprise you to learn that the Hebraic Jewish Apostles were less effect and not as well placed as their counterpart Hellenistic Jewish Christian believers in planting churches in the surrounding Gentile provinces and cities.
To give you the background, in Jesus' day there were Hebraic Jews -- Jews whose worship was at the temple; who spoke mainly Hebrew and Aramaic.
And there were Hellenistic Jews -- Jews who had dispersed and not returned after the exile -- who were bicultural; speaking common Greek and who worshipped in the synagogues.
The Acts of the Apostles reveals that the most effective church planters were the bicultural Hellenistic Jews who formed the church in Antioch.
The Hebraic Jews had the greatest difficulty of all communicating the Gospel across culture. Peter had to be persuaded by a vision before he went to the home of Cornelius in Joppa. He was quick to return to his cultural comfort zone.
It was the Apostles in Jerusalem who became the legislators for developments taking place when Gentiles were converted, and Gentile converts were required to accommodate their practices to suit the Jerusalem church. But the church planting that took place did so through the Church in Antioch rather than through the Church of Jerusalem.
Paul and Barnabus (both Hellenistic Jews) were sent.
The world we know has changed and is constantly changing. And the Church we know has changed and is constantly changing.
But these changes work against the effectiveness of our mission.
Churches change from beginnings when the founders are most purposeful about evangelism and mission.
This drifts over a couple of generations to church that places greater value on being a community that values care for each other.