This quote from one of my class lectures resonated with me. This semester, I have Acts and the Pauline Epistles. I’m deep in Acts, and, let me tell you, Acts is the textbook for cross-cultural communication.
And, make no mistake, our present culture is at odds with our faith.
What once drew respect now draws contempt. The culture today no longer agrees to disagree with Christians. It brands us intolerant, racist, homophobic bigots who should not be allowed to breathe, much less voice an opinion.
Enter Luke and his account of Paul on Mars Hill (Acts 17:16-34). I encourage you to spend some time in this passage, because Paul wasn’t speaking to the synagogue crowd here. He’s giving a TED Talk for the Athenians. In bridging the culture gap, Paul had several things we need too:
Heart Condition: First, examine your heart. Does our culture distress you? Why? Because it’s awful and you don’t want to raise children or grandchildren in it? Or because of what it’s doing to the millions who blindly follow it? Because the lives of the lost are a mess of hurt? Because they are at the mercy of the enemy? Because they live in bondage to their own flesh?
Where is your heart? (I could camp here, but if you’re just not there in having a heart for others yet, it’s ok. Ask God to lead you there. It’s a journey. Take your first step.)
Culture Connection: Paul used the Athenian culture to connect with his audience. He connected things common to them—religion, poets, philosophy—with something common to Paul and his new friends—the existence of God and creation. What in today’s culture points toward God? (The arts, especially music, are full of examples because even an unbeliever can’t help but reflect his Creator in some way. –Dr. Kreider, DTS)
Personal Relevance: Paul brought it home to them. He answered their “so-what?” with God’s truth. Paul made sure he touched on critical questions: How does this affect me? Why does this matter?
And the response?
It was mixed, and ours will be too.
Some wanted to hear more.
A few believed.
You don’t have to go to Africa, Haiti, or India to cross cultures. Our culture runs counter to our faith without ever leaving home. We need a mindset that recognizes the disconnect and stands in the gap here and now.
All communication is cross-cultural. Start crossing.
Workout for the Week: Cross-Cultural Communication
Memory Verse: “Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: ‘People 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. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.’ ” Acts 17:22-23
Meditation Passage: Acts 17:16-34
Just Do It: Cross your culture.