Thursday, January 24, 2013

In the Marketplace of Gods

This year, I’m preaching about Representing Christ in a Non-Christian Culture.  Last year, I asked you to tell me the hardest things about living for Christ these days.  Here at the start of the year, I am taking those obstacles you mentioned and asking, “What does Scripture tell us about this?”   One of the things you said you struggled with was relating to people of other religions.  Many of us grew up in a very Christian-dominated environment.  I might be an extreme case, but I didn’t know anyone who was of a non-Christian religion until I went off to college.  Today, our culture is more religiously diverse than it has ever been.  Many of us have close friends or relatives who are members of Non-Christian religions.  Most of us have neighbors, co-workers, or acquaintances who are of a different faith.  And all of us regularly pass by synagogues, mosques, temples, Kingdom Halls, and other buildings of Non-Christian faiths.  And that diversity will continue to increase.  We’re nice people, and we want to get along with our neighbors of other faiths.  We’re also Americans, so we treasure the freedom to worship as we see fit, and we don’t want to do anything that would infringe on that.  But most of all, we’re followers of Christ, and our obedience to His call should trump everything else.  So what instruction do we find in His Word about relating to people who worship other gods? 
This Sunday, we'll be looking at Acts 17.  Paul lived in a world even more religiously diverse than ours.  At one point, he found himself in Athens, which was, more than any other city (even Rome) where cultural thoughts and trends were formed.  In that sense, it functioned much like New York or LA does in our culture.  Athens was a city of many gods.  There was an ancient proverb that said, “In Athens, there are more gods than men.”  V. 16 says that Paul’s spirit was provoked within him as he saw all these gods.  The Greek word that’s used there has an implication of anger, even rage.  So what did Paul do?  We'll talk about it Sunday.

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