Acts 17 – Are You willing to Share God’s Love in Any Cultural Context? with Matt McHugh (Gateway North Austin)

In Acts 17, Paul is being split up from Timothy and Silas as they are sharing the message of God’s love. The jews from Thessalonica were causing an uproar over Paul sharing God’s love and are mad that this situation is happening in Beroe. 

The believers are sending Paul to the coast so that he won’t be arrested and Paul ends up in Athens. The Mecca of Classical learning, Greek thought, culture, etc. He meets some philosophers who are believing there are multiple ways to live a good life. Some are believing that a life of contentment is going to be the best way to live and other philosophers are saying it’s through being disciplined and strategic. 

The philosophers are asking Paul to share about this “new teaching” and Paul notices that everyone worships lots of gods in the city. Paul notices that at one of the altars there is a phrase that is dedicated to “ an unknown god”. Now, Paul decides that he is going to share about who this unknown God is, which is Jesus, but uses language that the Greeks are familiar with and can understand. Paul is sharing the love and grace of God in a way that the people of Athens could understand by storytelling the Gospel. 

For us today, we very much live in a city like Athens where there is tons of culture, art, and people who are searching for what life is all about here in Austin.  

We have the opportunity to share God’s love with the city of Austin who prescribes to the altar of “the unknown God” of whoever… fill in the blank. Success, pleasure, politics. 

In your neighborhood, with your family and friends, God is inviting us to “be Jesus” to and with everyone around us. We can be urban missionaries talking to the culture of our day, noticing what our culture worships, and speak to the aches and pains of culture by sharing what God has done and is doing in our world today through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. That there is hope for the hopeless, rest for the weary and anxious, acceptance for the status-seeking, love for those who feel shame. 

Notice how differently the method Paul used to reach the Bereans as opposed to how he sought to explain the message of Jesus to the people of Athens. Know the people you are trying to reach by observing, asking good questions, and looking for ways to serve them. Think like a cross-cultural missionary. 

Devotional Question: 

When reading this passage what stood out to you?

How do you sense God may want you to apply what you discovered?

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