October 26, 2005

Bridging the Gap

Acts 17:16-34

“Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.” Acts 17:22


In Acts 17 we read of a fascinating encounter Paul has with some spiritual seekers. Walking through the world-class city of Athens, he cannot help noticing the many religious statues and altars the people have built. He sees abundant evidence of false religions and shallow spirituality. But there is no evidence of true worship of the true God. Rather than falling into despair, Paul seizes a great mission opportunity.


Like Paul, instead of cursing the darkness around us, we need to be bearers of God’s light. Encountering unbelievers should motivate us to look for opportunities to share God’s love with them.


We do this by finding common ground and establishing points of contact. That’s what Paul did. To the philosophers on Mars Hill (the Areopagus) he said, “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious.” Instead of mocking their spiritual ignorance or judging their practices, Paul compliments them on their spiritual hunger. He builds a bridge that connects.


Paul also “speaks their language.” He refers to their altar “to an unknown God” and quotes their poets. He shows he is informed and engaged in the culture. He builds a bridge and uses it to carry across the message of Jesus. Paul delivers the gospel in a way that his audience can understand--still an effective approach today

Lord, we know that your Word has power to change lives. We also know it must be told in ways that others can understand. Help us share your message effectively today. Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Daniel Jongsma serves as an interim pastor in Fulton, Illinois. He has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois; in Dearborn, Michigan; and in Nashville, Tennessee. Dan also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. He and his wife, Gloria, have three daughters and four grandchildren.

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