The Unknown God - Really?

I’m sure you wouldn’t believe me if I told you that pastors can sometimes be very mischievous people.  A pastor friend of mine is notorious for calling up his deacons, at a moment’s notice, to preach.  In his mind, we are called to give an account of our faith so we better be ready, even in church, to do just that.   In Acts 17, Paul finds himself in just such a situation.  Would you know how to handle that situation? Paul gives us a clear model for engaging people who know very little about the Christian faith.
In Acts 17, Paul used the following steps:

Be brokenhearted by idolatry;Find points of agreement;Expose the insufficiency of their answers;Proclaim the greatness of God; andDrive toward the resurrection. 

1. Be Brokenhearted by Idolatry
When Paul saw the impressive structures of Athens, he was impressed, but he was also brokenhearted.  His first reaction was to find a way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the people of Athens.  They obviously were looking for something to fill their lives.  But unfortunately, they missed the mark.  When you see idolatrous structures in our society, what is your reaction? Tim Keller says, "Look at whatever buildings in your city are the biggest—those usually indicate the idols."
If you are not broken hearted by the idolatry then I am sorry to say, you are worldly.  But getting angry and just walking away is not the answer either.  As Paul, we need to run toward the people who are affected by this idolatry and find a way to bring them to the Lord.  The only way we can make any changes is to get to know our culture.  You didn’t hear me say we become part of the idolatrous culture.  However, in order for us to connect, we must understand why they are the way they are.  After all, missionaries spend months learning the mission field’s culture before they ever leave. 
2. Find points of agreement
We are created to worship and know God.  Thus we are all searching for the meaning of life.  We even make movies about that theme.  The good news is that we have the answer for the meaning of life: Jesus Christ.  We simply need to find areas of agreement and work our way to the Lord.
3. Point out the inaccuracy of others arguments
Before someone will listen to you about the Lord, you may first need to tear down their idols.  Whether they will admit it or not, anything short of the Lord won’t hold up under scrutiny and simply doesn’t work. Dr. Phil would ask them,” How’s that working for you?” For instance, Donald Trump’s security is his money.  Well, I hate to say it but even with billions of dollars at his disposal, the man can’t even get a descent haircut.  I rest my case ;)  Francis Schaeffer called this blowing the roof off the current house so they’ll seek shelter elsewhere.
4. Proclaim God’s Greatness
“My dad’s bigger than your dad!” When you were a kid, did you ever say that to your friends?  Well, in essence, that is what Paul is saying.  And you know what, he is right!  The real God is so large, and infinite, and wise, that he is often unexplainable.  Since we only use 10 percent of our brains, I don’t think that we can possibly come close to understanding the depth of wisdom of our Lord.  Since God is infinitely wise, there will obviously be things I just don’t understand.  That is why we have faith!  “If God were small enough to be understood, he would not be big enough to be worshipped.” Evelyn Underhill
5. Finally, point them toward the Lord’s resurrection
We should always strive to point them to the Lord’s resurrection.  You may argue that your idol is better.  Whether it’s money, prestige, power, or vanity your idol is finite.  My God is infinite.  After all, Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, overcame death, and was victorious over Satan.  I’m sorry, but beat that!
In him,
Pastor Boyd

No Comments