So … how are you holding up in this crazy world we’re in? Is it a struggle for you? It is for me at times. I struggle with some of the things going on in our culture today:
You place a crucifix of Jesus in a jar of urine and get praised for creative “ART.”
You draw a picture of Muhammed in a public art contest and get threatened to be killed.
You support the decision to redefine marriage and get praised for being loving and open-minded.
You support the freedom in faith not to redefine marriage and get labeled as being hateful and closed-minded.
So I struggle. Yet, while I struggle with our culture’s abandonment of a biblical moral code, I know the first century world in which the Christian faith and Church exploded on the scene was even more immoral and antagonistic to the Christian faith than our culture is today. The question this then begs to be asked is: How did these early Christians live in their world and what can we learn from them?
The book of Acts in the Bible tells the story of the start and the growth of the Christian Church. In reading these and other related historical stories, we learn that the early Christians made a very positive impression on the people in their cultures. They made such an impression by how they lived their lives.
When they saw you in need - they did their best to meet that need. No matter who you were - what you believed - what kind of values and morals you had. These Christians loved you unconditionally.
When these early Christians were “outed” for being followers of Jesus, much like facing ISIS today, many were publicly executed. How they faced their death is what amazed the people. They refused to renounce Jesus as their Savior - and they did so with a countenance of confidence and peace that said to their family and friends, “Everything is going to be okay!” Those who witnessed this were moved to want to know “Who is their God?” And the Church grew!
In Acts 17 the Apostle Paul demonstrates this power of love and confidence in faith. He addresses the crowds in the marketplace of Athens about their monument to an “unknown” god. What we learn from this story is what contributed directly to the growth of the Christian Church: Paul spoke about Jesus and he was heard. The question we need ask
Before Paul spoke to the people about Jesus, he built a platform from which to speak and be heard. As you read through Acts 17 you can see the steps he took to ensure his platform was built well.
He began by building a relationship with the people.
He then listened to what the people had to say without condemning them!
He found “connecting points” - things on which he knew they would agree, e.g: “Is there a god?” He didn’t start with Jesus. But that’s where He LED them.
I know it’s not easy to accept some of the things we see “coming down” as laws of the land in our world today.
But what we can do - and what God is calling us to do today - is what Paul did.
LOVE then LEAD!
Show the people in this world that you love them. Then, as God allows, lead them to Jesus!
That’s what Paul did. That’s what the early Christian Church did. They learned it from Paul. Question is - can we learn it from them?
LOVE - then LEAD!
If they can do it - by the grace of God - so can we.
Live a Life that BEGS the question.
Rev. Dr. Martin J. Brauer is pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 W. Whitestone Blvd., Cedar Park, TX. He lives with his wife, Leona, and dog, Tica, in Leander. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.