“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ ” - (Acts 17:27–28)
To reach people with the gospel, we must be culturally relevant. Sometimes we Christians can be paranoid when it comes to knowing anything about our culture. We don’t want to listen to secular music. We don’t want to watch any movies except Christian ones. But to reach someone, we need to know a little about them.
When the apostle Paul spoke at the Areopagus in Athens, he built a bridge with his audience before he brought the gospel message: “For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring’ ” (Acts 17:28). Paul began by quoting one of their Greek poets. He engaged them. He spoke in a language they understood.
I am not suggesting that we should compromise with people to share the gospel. Nor am I suggesting that we do things that violate what Scripture says. But I am saying that we have to go where people are, speak in a language they understand, and know a little bit about the culture around us so we can relate in an understandable way. And if Paul did this, then we need to do it as well.
Many churches today are out of touch with their culture. They are answering questions no one is asking, and they are not answering the questions that are being asked. We can’t expect a culture that knows very little about the Bible to understand the terminology we use. In fact, we can end a conversation before it even begins by insulting the people we speak with. We use language they don’t understand. We come off as arrogant or even condescending.
When Paul shared the gospel, he sought to build a bridge, not burn one. And we should do the same.
Copyright © 2012 by Harvest Ministries. All rights reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.
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