Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Acts 17 16-ff is the definitive passage that people use for talking about relevance. In it, Paul talks about the Athenian idol to an unknown god and uses this to explain Yahweh the creator and future judge, as proved by resurrection. (Really, that's the whole of his message. He doesn't even say "Jesus.")

So, why was this relevant?
Because Paul started with something in Athens? Not really.
Because he quoted from one of their poets? Not really.

It was relevant because it was what they were interested in. It was what they cared about:
21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

This was the right place for this message. They were into theology, so Paul gave them theology. They weren't the sinners that Jesus approached with love. They weren't the Pharisees that Jesus approached with rebuke. They weren't the Jews that Stephen approached with history. They weren't the crowd that Peter approached with facts. They were scholars who Paul approached with scholarship.

Who are we approaching? (Or who should we be approaching?) How should we approach them?
The religious know-it-all cries for reform. The scholar demands proof. The broken need comfort. The poor need food. The young need a teacher. The lonely need a friend. The inexperienced need a mentor. The old need a purpose. The down hearted need hope. The explorers need discovery.

Everyone needs love in one form or another. Our mission is to figure out the form and give it to them. And then give it to them again. And again. And again.

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