Archive for April 4th, 2008

Ingrid is always comparing the comfy-cozy American church to the strong suffering church overseas. Yet after reading this article, I had to sit, ponder, and say “hmmm.”

You see, after a few hours on Google, Ingrid will occasionally find what she dubs a “circus church”. This will usually consist of a church with contemporary music and –god forbid, a moment of laughter in their services. She will then rant about how children in Korea are dying for the faith, and women in China are shot for saying they believe in Jesus. And these are all horrible tragedies.

But, then she posts articles like this. I mean, don’t we really all need a politician having press conferences declaring that it is our RIGHT to “speak out for the redeeming love of Jesus Christ who died to set us all free from sin.” But this doesn’t really jive with me on two levels.

You see, the persecuted church that Ingrid rightly gives as an example for us to follow is NOT holding press conferences outside of the Bejing government buildings. The persecuted church is not declaring their RIGHT to share the gospel outside of the Iran military barracks. They are not pounding on the court doors in Malaysia, issuing a press release of their faith. They do not need a right, governmental protection or any other sort of press release to passionately live out their faith. Even living in an environment where the very core of their being is deemed illegal, they have found a way to grow more rapidly that we could ever imagine in the United States. I wonder what the church in China thinks of Ingrid’s post — Christians making sure that the nation knows it is their government given RIGHT to share the gospel, but then spend a majority of their time surfing the web for the next ministry to criticize.

Lastly, any movement that needs to assure that the government recognizes it’s right to share what they believe, is no movement at all. You see, institutions, bureaucracies and lobbyists need to assure that their voice is made legal and promoted. Revolutions change the world even if a gun is pressed to your head. If God is actually real, and moving in the hearts of mankind, then press release not — the gospel will be alive and well.

So, if the church in America has boiled down to a nice business that needs a press release to justify its existence, count me out. I’d rather be on mission in a revolution to change the world with the gospel of Christ than lobbying the government for the RIGHT to keep our institution legal.

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So, here’s the Acts 17:16-32 (NIV):

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24″The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28′For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’

29″Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33At that, Paul left the Council. 34A few men became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

So, here’s what I noticed. While it says in verse 17 that Paul talked about Jesus and the Resurrection, in the text of the sermon, Paul never mentions Jesus. He also doesn’t mention sin, law, hell, eternal fire or damnation (to be fair, he uses the term “repent” and “judge”) .

Was Paul going soft on the Athenians? Was he contextualizing? If the ODMs were blogging back then, would they have a field day on Paul’s sermon, like they do whenever Driscoll, Bell, or Warren speak?

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