Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Unconditional Love & Respect

I find it interesting that New Hope's lead pastor's name is Paul. It seems fitting, since the Paul of the bible was so good at getting into the world, understanding culture, introducing people to Christ and showing them how to live for him.

Look at Acts 17. Paul is 'distressed' to see the city full of idols. He is not enticed by the idols, he isn't considering how close he can get to the idols and still be called a Christian. He is distressed.

And what does he do with that? "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." Basically, he talked to anyone who would talk to him...

Did everyone understand him? Of course not. Some called him a babbler; others thought he was advocating the foreign gods.

But for whatever reason, people listened to him. "They 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? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

He came to complete their religion - not to bash the people. Keep in mind, he was distressed by the idols. But he also knew that to introduce people to the living God, you must proceed with equal amounts of unconditional love and respect.

Look at what he says: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For 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. And he goes on to introduce them to Jesus...

Unconditional love and respect - wonderful things. How does one incorporate those things into life? How does Paul's example play out in our lives today?

1 comment:

Paul Dazet said...

When I was at the concert with my brother - there were so many things that "distressed" me. I felt so uncomfortable with those things. I did not participate in those things. But what I did do was utilize the language of the culture to build a deeper relationship with my brother. There was no manipulation, no clever strategies. It was honest - it was authentic.

I saw 30,000 people worshipping on Saturday. They are looking for something to believe in - someway to escape and receive a "high". We are all on a journey - searching and seeking. The cool thing is that the whole time that we are searching and seeking we are being sought by God.

Unconditional love and respect - sounds like getting "real" to me.