Monday, May 19, 2008

Acts: The Sermon at Pisidian Antioch (13:14-43)

In Pisidian Antioch we get an expanded glimpse into Paul’s synagogue strategy—we have Paul’s sermon recorded for us to read. In it we see that he ties the Gospel into a theological/ historical context that makes it very clear to his Jewish/ God fearing audience. For most evangelical Christians today, who have been more or less raised in a Christian culture, this contextualization is unobserved. For us it is simply all a part of the Gospel. This is not quite the case.
In today’s world this story no longer works, or at least it is incomplete. In a culture where most do not share the historical perspective and, in fact, most do not even begin by believing in God, it is just as foreign a concept as the Gospel itself. To make the Gospel accessible by talking about God’s interaction with the Jewish people and its evidence throughout Jewish history is not the starting point. It may not even come into the conversation at all.
Paul’s strategy is still valid. It is just that the particulars must change. Another context must be found in which to introduce spiritual conversations. Books, local Culture, Movies, TV shows, current events, and local history are all candidates for such a context. Contrary to some preconceptions, witnessing does not require seminary training or just above average Biblical knowledge. However, it does require us to be engaged with and knowledgeable of our secular cultural context.
How are you doing? What is the history of your community? Who are the cultural greats—authors and philosophers and what did they have to say? What are the most popular movies, TV shows, and books at the moment? Who are the current political leaders? What are the “water cooler” topics?
Sounds like an MSN ad, doesn’t it? Sing it: “No one wants to look dumb.”

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