lørdag 23. juli 2016

Who? What? Where?

I got my first volume of the annual issue of the Norwegian “Who? What? Where?” for Christmas when I was 16. Since then I have collected and bought second-hand and have a good collection in my library back home. The three interrogatives are important with regard to preaching – but may the fourth one “how” is even more important.

One of the many interesting stories in Acts is Luke’s record of Paul's speech in Athens. So we straight away know “where”. I believe that the Holy Spirit is culturally sensitive without compromising the core of what he wants to achieve . Whether Paul had learned cultural sensitivity from the Holy Spirit, figured it out all by himself or whether it was purely intuitive, is impossible to derive from the text. Sometimes it can be important to distinguish, while at other times it is very artificial to do it. When a believer is commissioned and takes part in the mission, he is a representative of Jesus with every part of himself, therefore we must think holistically. The Holy Spirit utilizes everything I leave at his disposal.

Paul knew “who” he had in front of him: “All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.” (1). It is possible that the description is stereotyped, but it says something about a philosophical attitude, and Paul decided to appeal to the thought. Paul was never in doubt "what" he wanted to communicate – the eternal perspective and salvation in Jesus.

In relation to "how", he had observed that there was a lot of idolatry in the city (2). He had also seen an altar with the inscription, 'To an Unknown God.' It must have attracted attention when he concluded and proclaimed:
So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
Acts 17: 23b
I can learn a lot by observing Paul and his preaching. Perhaps the cultural differences are not so big? What if we behind religious beliefs, philosophical musings and political influences can find a general longing in all people to come in contact with "the unknown God". That is actually a longing for eternal life: Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent (3).

‘Manna’ for today:

I want to identify the longing for God in the people I meet.
(1) Acts 17:21
(2) Acts 17:15
(3) John 17:3 

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