Thursday, July 16, 2009
Friday, July 17,2009
Read Acts 17: 16-31
Paul, who had been publicly proclaiming the Jesus Way in the marketplaces and synagogues with anyone and everyone, was ridiculed by these culture shapers and opinion makers as a "babbler" who advocated "foreign gods.”. But the philosophers loved to learn the latest, so they invited Paul to a meeting at Athens's most powerful and important venue to explain what they derided as his "strange ideas."
At our worst, we Christians have isolated and insulated ourselves from our culture's mainstreams. We can be inward-looking, self-absorbed, self-important, and cloistered, instead of engaging people at our modern day marketplaces of ideas.
But at our best, Christians have always been just as comfortable living, learning and sharing the Gospel in the marketplace as in the ministry of the church, in bars and board rooms as well as in basilicas, in university lecture halls as easily as in church fellowship halls. In an outward, centrifugal movement modeled after Paul at the Areopagus, believers have welcomed the opportunity to meet real people where they really live, work, and think, in order to gain a hearing for their "strange ideas" about repentance, rebirth, and the resurrection.
The statement, “In him, we live and move and have our being” is not a statement from a Hebrew prophet or a writer of scripture, but from a Greek poet who didn’t even believe in Yahweh or Jesus! And yet we use it repeatedly within our Christian worship and theology. It is a reminder to us that there is no such thing as a pure or unsullied theology, but through any reflection upon the Christian faith march many traditions of thought – pagan as well as Christian!
May we always be open to learning from as well as testifying to persons of any faith or no faith. May we show the respect which Paul demonstrated in Athens and offer our witness with humility, though unapologetically.
I look forward to seeing some of you in worship at Forest Heights United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN, and resuming the conversation with all of you on Monday.