Are We Speaking Their Language?
By Pastor Brent
I’m always amazed at what the Apostle Paul does when engaging a group of people who had never heard about Jesus Christ. He doesn’t use fancy words and he doesn’t tell a story from the Bible; rather he uses a pagan idol to point people to the One True God. When Paul is in the city of Athens he stands up during a meeting and says, ““Men of Athens, I notice that you are very religious in every way, for as I was walking along I saw your many shrines. And one of your altars had this inscription on it: ‘To an Unknown God.’ This God, whom you worship without knowing, is the one I’m telling you about” (Acts 17:22-23). Paul goes on to say “as some of you own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’” (Acts 17:28).
Paul uses a pagan idol and pagan poetry to help the Athenians connect to Yahweh. In other words, Paul speaks their language. He contextualizes the Gospel in such a way that the people of Athens can relate.
As our culture moves farther away from the Christian traditions of the past, I wonder how the church will respond. Are we thinking through how to effectually engage the culture we live in with the love of Christ? This doesn’t mean we strip away the Gospel or stop preaching the truth; Absolutely not! The Gospel is the whole point! But it does mean we consider how we’re packaging the Gospel and that we minimize distractions, non-biblical traditions, or lesser things that can get in the way of opportunities to share the Gospel.
How can we better connect with the people we live and work with? How can we help people to see that God will meet them where they’re at? How can we help those far from God to see the love and goodness of God through us? How can we better speak their language?