Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Can we cross the bend in the road?

It would be very neat and tidy if everyone we spoke with came from the same context, background, and cultural setting as ourselves. But such is not the case and therein lies our challenge if we would be proclaimers of the Gospel. When Jesus called his disciples to reach Samaria [Acts 1:8], for instance, he exposed them to a challenging mission because the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans [John 4:9]. Can you imagine what this would have done to Peter or James and John? To obey the Lord, they must count as their neighbors those they were taught all their lives to hate! The Apostle Paul loved his own people, yet God sent him primarily to the Gentiles. This meant that Paul was going to have to cross the bend in the road from a total Jewish context and background. He needed to communicate to pagans in a way of thinking they could understand so that the Gentiles would "get" the Gospel message.
Tim Keller stated that "an absence of biblical literacy affects the way people hear our sermons." He gives the following example: "I spoke for a group of young people in the midwestern US in which I observed from the book of Acts that 'Stephen was stoned to death.' Murmers and smiles emerged; heads turned and eyes met. I wondered at the low rumbles of commotion. Then it dawned on me: when I said 'Stephen was 'stoned to death,' the young people heard the word stoned through their cultural contexts- the euphoric sensation a person on drugs experiences.  They heard "Stephen overdosed on drugs and died."  Our culture knows less and less of the Bible, so we are going to have to cross the bend in the road so that they understand what we are talking about.
Even more,  people must be around us for a while to get to know the reality behind what we say. With increased credibility of testimony we can cross the bend in the road.  Are you ready to cross the bend in the road?  Think it through!

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