Sunday, April 29, 2007

Decoding Culture - Acts 17:16-21

Act 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him when he saw that the city was given over to idols.

  • His spirit was provoked within – I pray that this will happen to us.
  • We will be aggravated, annoyed, irritated, goaded, forced to deal with the issues at hand, or that we see through believing eyes
  • given over to idols -

Act 17:17 Therefore he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshipers, and in the

  • He reasoned with them. He got in the mix. He rubbed elbows and traded words, he conversed, and like race fans put it- he traded paint.
  • He discussed, disputed and preached to them
  • At times it was logical reasoning and at moments it was hot debate
  • marketplace daily – real ministry is not done behind white clapboards or with red bricks and white columns.
  • Agorah is the Greek term- in the middle of the people
  • Agoraphobia, literally translated as "a fear of the marketplace
  • An agoraphobic does not fear people: he or she rather fears an embarrassing/dangerous situation with no escape.
  • Some people with agoraphobia are comfortable seeing visitors, but only in a defined space they feel in control of.
  • Such people may live for years without leaving their homes, while happily seeing visitors and working, as long as they can stay within their safety zones.
  • We Are Stuck In Our Safety Zones

Act 17:18 Then certain Epicurean and Stoic philosophers encountered him. And some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods,” because he preached to them Jesus and the resurrection.

  • Paul was in a place of many philosophies and ideas, not one truth, real truth was lost and what ever was good got you was your personal truth.
  • They found our God foreign, alien, new, & strange.
  • This was a different teaching and the concept of this God was far and distant.
    It is our Goal to be the salt and the light -Mat 5:13-16 "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. (14) "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. (15) Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. (16) In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
  • How can we do this is we are not around the people
  • If we are not in the marketplace then how can we affect the people that Jesus loves, because Jesus loves the reprobate too?

Act 17:19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new doctrine is of which you speak?

  • They wanted to know the who and the what about what Paul have being talking to them about
  • They were hungry to know what he was talking about, Jesus and His Grace have become such a foreign concept that it is becoming new all over again.

Act 17:20-1 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears. Therefore we want to know what these things mean.” (21) For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.

  • There was a time, just a few centuries ago, when nautical maps of Europe had legends that included the location of churches on land and church steeples doubled as navigational tools for ship captains. Churches were typically built on choice real estate in the center of town or atop the highest hill. And in some places, there were ordinances against building anything taller than the church steeple so it would occupy the place closest to heaven. Nothing was more visible on the pre-modern skyline than church steeples. And in a sense, church steeples symbolized the place of the church in culture. There was a day, in the not too distant past, when church was the center of culture. Church was the place to go. Church was the thing to do. Nothing was more visible than the church steeple. Nothing was more audible than the church bells. And it might be a slight exaggeration, but all the pre-modern church had to do was raise a steeple and ring a bell. Is it safe to say that things have changed?
  • The church no longer enjoys a cultural monopoly.
  • We know Scripture, but we're out of touch with the times. We are well studied in Sunday school we don’t know our neighbor
  • The end result is a gap between theology and reality called irrelevance. Things that are ill relevant are insignificant, unimportant, worthless, inconsequential, trival – the Church was not called to be this
  • Eph 5:35 says that he gave his life for it.
  • We're out of touch with the very people we're trying to reach--the unchurched and dechurched. We've got to exegete our culture so we can close the gap. That's what incarnation is all about.
  • The post-Christian church needs a revelation: irrelevance is irreverence!
  • The church has four options when it comes to engaging culture: 1) ignore it, 2) imitate it, 3) condemn it, or 4) create it. And each option leads in polar opposite directions.

    • We can ignore culture, but the byproduct of ignorance is irrelevance. The more we ignore culture the more irrelevant we'll become. And if the church ignores the culture, the culture will ignore the church.
    • We can imitate culture, but imitation is a form of suicide. Originality is sacrificed on the altar of cultural conformity. If we don't shape the culture, the culture will shape us.
    • We can condemn culture, but condemnation is a cop out. Let me just call it what it is: condemnation is spiritual laziness. We've got to stop pointing the finger and start offering better alternatives. If the church condemns the culture, the culture will condemn the church.

  • Those three options will lead the church down a dead-end road to irrelevance, but there is another option--the only option if we're serious about fulfilling the Great Commission and incarnating the gospel. We can compete for culture by creating culture.
  • In the immortal words of the Italian artist and poet, Michelangelo: criticize by creating.
  • At the end of the day, the culture will treat the church the way the church treats the culture. And we're not called to condemn. We're called to redeem.

i woudl liketo say thanks to Mark at Evotional as he was able to put my thoughts on culture into for andhe didn't even know it. drop by his blog and be amazed

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