Summary: Here is a message that is based from The 50 Day Spiritual Adventure "More Than Survivors". It’s has a bit of a postmodern feel to it, but with a strong challenge to get into the everyday world so many Christians are offended by.
INTRO: Here’s a question! Have you ever spoken with someone visiting from another country? What’s the one thing we always seem to ask a foreigner? “How do you like America?” And what’s the one thing they always seem to say in return? “I like America. America very good”, or whatever the variation of that. But what if they were to say, “My country’s much better” or “America’s very bad”? Wouldn’t we be appalled, offended, or even a little angry?
Well tonight’s focus for us is that we would become aware of how frequently we become judgmental and negative to the world around us. That we would become aware of how often we as Christians appall, offend, or even anger those around us by our convictions. Convictions, by the way, that those around us most likely do not have. Think about it. How many times have we offended someone by our negative words or behavior towards a particular movie, or TV show? We do that a lot of times as Christians to a “Secular” world. The very division between “Secular” and “ Sacred” in and of itself is enough to turn people off to what we hold dear, and the message we carry.
Body: There’s a really cool passage in Acts 17:16-28 where Paul, in the midst of idol worship, uses his surroundings to gain a hearing. He takes what is seemingly so bad and uses it to his advantage.
Read: Acts 17:16-28
Epicureans were atheistic. Man can only be conscious of two things: Pleasure and Pain. Avoid pain by choosing pleasure (only not too much pleasure).
Stoics were Polytheistic, but with minor gods. Pleasure leads to pain when the joy of that pleasure is lost. Stoic Philosophy of indifference. If you desire nothing, you need fear the loss of nothing.
The Areopagus is also known as Mars Hill (for those of you who study Greek philosophy).
The problem: (Oprah)
The church has pushed the “Secular” world so far away from it that society has/wants nothing to do with it.
Harry Potter is a perfect example of that. I’ve actually talked to people who have never read a Harry Potter book, but will tell you every reason they know they don’t like it.
Then after that, the church has demanded that this broader culture understand its “religious” language. When, in reality, this post-Christian culture has no literacy of the Bible or the church’s language (redeemed, saved, sanctified, washed in the blood of the lamb). People have no idea what we are talking about.
We’ve pushed people so far away from us and locked the doors then wonder why we’re not reaching people like they did in the early church of Acts.
We have got to be willing to become a part of our communities around us without being of it.
I love how Paul can step into whatever culture he’s in and sees it’s potential as a tool to share his love for Christ Read: I Corinthians 9:19-23
Here are a few ideas to get us started on becoming a Paul in our culture.
1. Stay up to date with what’s around you
Not saying that you have to expose yourself to everything. Things like Harry Potter, read it before you pass a judgment. There are lots of different things out there that we do that with.
2. Apply a Christ-like perspective to what you see and hear.
Not “Christian” (it’s such a dirty little word that focuses people on institutional religion and not on Christ). Here’s a good rule: What would Jesus think (remembering his love for the lost)?
3. Talk about what you see and hear with godly friends.
Three Legged stool = Bible, Prayer, and godly relationships. We need that for strength and accountability.
Let’s get back to being servants who can speak love and grace to a world so desperately searching for hope and reason.
Read: Colossians 4:2-6
Grace (Charis – Khar’-ece) – That which affords joy, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: Grace of Speech.
Read: I Peter 3:15-16
You know what I caught when I read this verse? It doesn’t say, “Shoot your mouth off to everyone as to why you have this hope”. It says, “who asks you”. Now, if people are going to ask you, then there needs to be a reason for them to ask (Do you live a life of grace?).
Conclusion: My challenge: Go and live a life of grace and love. Be servants to everyone. Be feet washers. Love, and when you’re tired of loving…love! When you’re angry…Love! May the Spirit of God strengthen us to be human grace to all those we come into contact with.