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I Can Relate

• Brianna Millett

This week, Brianna Millett addresses how we are to respond to the “mixed signals” we get from the multitude of competing viewpoints in our modern world. How do we state our beliefs effectively? And what does the Bible teach about sharing the Gospel with unbelievers?

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Our world presents us with a constant barrage of “mixed signals,” which can make it difficult to know which messages are true and which are off-track. How should we respond? How do we add our voice into the mixed messages out there? Do we get louder so our voice will be heard, or are we better off just keeping our viewpoints to ourselves?

The first thing we need to do is to dismantle our notion that we need to find the right dogma to defend. The Bible clearly shows that God has a better way to present His message, and it’s nothing new – God wants His children to love one another.

In Acts 17, we see that Paul was “deeply distressed” by all the idols that surrounded him when he was in Athens. Yet even in his distress, Paul didn’t try to convince the locals that their mixed signals were wrong by making his message louder or more forceful, nor did he remain quiet. Paul knew from personal experience that God is for people even when they’re off track, and that God meets people where they’re at, so Paul simply began to dialog and build respectful relationships with the locals. That, in turn, led to them inviting Paul to stand up and share his beliefs right in the epicenter of the philosophical culture of his day. And what Paul shared served to build a bridge by finding some commonalities between them rather than focusing only on differences, (“I see you’re very religious people…”). Paul was also then able to present the Gospel to them through their worldview. For example, Paul specifically used one of their pagan idols as a familiar frame of reference for them, from which they would be better able to understand the uniqueness of the God of Israel. Sure, some scoffed at Paul’s beliefs, but other Athenians became committed followers of Jesus that day.

Similarly, Jesus did not send his disciples out with instructions to use “my way or the highway” conversion tactics. Rather, He sent His disciples out to build relationships with lost and broken people. In one instance, Jesus sent 70 of his Jewish disciples, two by two, into Samaria. Samaria was a hostile place towards the Jews, but Jesus did not send them to confront the Samaritans – He sent them to love the Samaritans. He told them to bring peace into each house they entered, and when they found a house that welcomed them, they were to stay right there with that family. They were to eat what the family ate – meaning some mutuality and reciprocity was instructed, as building genuine relationships requires a two-way connection to be established. It was only after the bond of a caring relationship had begun that Jesus instructed his disciples to proclaim that the Kingdom of God had come to them.

So we find that when we serve one another and build loving relationships with each other, it is then that we will both see Jesus Christ in one another. And that is God’s plan that is free from mixed signals.

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Topics: Defense of Christian Faith, Evangelism, Relationships

Sermon Series: Mixed Signals


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Focus Scripture:

  • Acts 17:16-34

    16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, “What does this babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.” (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 19 So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.

    22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said,

    ‘For we too are his offspring.’

    29 Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. 30 While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 At that point Paul left them. 34 But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

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5 thoughts on “I Can Relate

    Vince says: Tuesday February 24, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Is it wrong to share the Gospel with a total stranger? It feels like, based on this teaching, that it would be. Can someone address this?

    Reply
    Earline McCauley says: Thursday February 26, 2015 at 6:29 am

    I can attest that it is not wrong from experience. I was flying home from a visit with family a few years ago on a very small, funny looking plane from Tupelo, Mississippi to Atlanta. I sat next to a elderly lady with oxygen attached to her. She was travelling alone which seemed odd to me. I was reading a book on the Holy Spirit and she asked about it. I shared some information on the Holy Spirit and this led into a discussion on salvation. To keep this short (too late), we prayed the salvation prayer right there on the plane. I knew that the Holy Spirit was there and also that others around us heard due to the size of the plane and us being scrunched in together. Another time God allowed me to share and pray with a security guard while I was in Israel. God opens doors for us we have to been prepared and gently step in when the opportunities arise. Sometimes it is easier to share the strangers. It all depends on what the Holy Spirit does.

    Reply
    Robert Woerter says: Thursday February 26, 2015 at 11:37 am

    Amen Amen Amen. loved it. the story about Dawn made me cry. I’ve been trying to serve the Lord for the last 42 years, sometimes better than others. Mostly just either sharing the gospel by word or sometimes just a sample. Both are important, but I know from 1st hand experience in different countries and cultures that God’s love is the universal solution to all of life’s problems. I’ve seen lives changed of both rich and poor, government officials and beggars on the streets, one thing that I often tell people is that the world doesn’t need more religion or churches, what it needs is more love, and the purest source of true love is God’s love in Jesus. It changed my life and I can change anyone’s. love you guys

    Reply
    Vince says: Friday February 27, 2015 at 4:11 pm

    I have to address something that I realized after I listened to Bruxy’s teaching this week on The Meeting House website. It has been interesting how in the past month, 2 of the weeks have had sermons which cover some of the same ground, and it’s helpful to hear from two perspectives. Brianna went over a lot in her teaching this week. Overall I got some things out of it, but I also have some concerns: I don’t think Paul was accurately portrayed. The context of his speech was not to show his understanding of, or to complement his audience. His approach was to begin at the only place he could to a pagan crowd. At the creation. That was because he had to expose the incorrectness of the Stoic and Epicureans, as well as the Athenians as a whole. His teaching was aimed directly at their incorrect view of existence. As a matter of fact, it seems Paul did exactly what Brianna was saying not to do: To expose what is wrong with their beliefs. This was no small thing, because the Athenians believed they were special and unique from all the rest of the world. Paul tells them that ALL people are from one man. This would have been a direct hit to what they believe. Paul was distressed, but not in a sad way. He was a Jew, a monotheist that was seeing the so called “height of mans’ philosophy” in a city renowned for it’s wisdom and thinking COMPLETELY absorbed in idol worship, and was moved to a form of “distressed” agitation, the Spirit was provoking him, resulting in his taking action: His first action was to debate with the Jewish community, which he always did when he came to a new town (that only makes sense, since with the Jewish people he had a starting point. He could use the scriptures to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, and some would be added, who would aid him as he approached the rest of the city). Then the text says he went to the marketplace, where people would come to buy and sell, as well as publicly share their ideas. Here we see Paul engaging in debate with “those who happened to be present”. This demonstrates that Paul was making a real effort to reach the people, anyone who happened to be around him, using his words.

    Brianna makes a great point that we should not be trying to force our particular “dogmas” onto others. This is where Christians sometimes go wrong, and it is absolutely true! Unfortunately, this is a type of problem that very few Christians have. MOST, if not almost ALL of the Christians I know, including myself, have a real problem opening our mouths at all about Jesus to our family, friends, neighbors, and enemies. Why is this not covered. Isn’t that the real need. I am not in Minnesota, so maybe it’s different there than it is everywhere else I’ve been, but really? Do you have a problem there with people speaking about Jesus, and other spiritual things too much? So much so that a lot of the people in the church walk away from a sermon like that feeling convicted? Is the majority saying to themselves: “I’ve been sharing too much. I’ve been arguing with everyone instead of presenting a clear case for Jesus”? I suspect not. I suspect that for most of the people listening, it was one more reason not to open their mouths for Jesus. It is, unfortunately, most unhelpful to say to almost everyone listening, who are already struggling with sharing Jesus with others, that here is one more reason to not speak up.

    Greg has shared about his experience as a young Jesus follower, that he pushed a lot of people away in his zeal to share the Gospel. He has expressed regret that he was too much sharing, and not enough relationship building. There is some wisdom to that, but I must say that Greg has also shared that the church he was saved in was a church that hung a lot of stuff on salvation besides Jesus. A lot of do’s and don’ts may have been presented with his Gospel to his friends. That is only natural for a young immature believer. I think he might have had a different experience if he was completely focused on presenting Jesus to his high school buddies. I wonder if his regret is misplaced because his “Gospel” was more complex than it should have been, and the result was, as one would expect, “burnt bridges”. I think high school kids being discipled at Woodland Hills, with all the amazing teaching, and all the correct ways to present the Love of God to others, could use a little exhortation to be willing to talk about Jesus to others. Let them mess up a little, like Greg did, and learn from it!

    One last thing: How about a sermon that challenges us to share our relationship with Jesus openly. A sermon that challenges us to realize that almost all of us (who don’t go around talking about Jesus too much) are in a dilemna: We think we’re not ready, or we don’t have enough teaching in us, or not qualified, or not called to share our faith. We think we have to work on some areas of our life before we can share with others about our experience with Jesus. Do you know that is the real situation? If so, why do you speak to the tiny minority of people who talk too much, and never do sermons that challenge us to do what we are commanded to do? I’ll be looking forward to some of those sermons.

    Reply
    Dave Pritchard says: Saturday February 28, 2015 at 11:39 am

    V,

    Awesome comment!!! Very insightful. I would like to say that when my son attended “Heroes Gate” classes at Woodland Hills, the teachers there were very helpful and encouraging about sharing Jesus with others. Although it was loosely structured, to have a bit of fun as well, they opened up with prayer, watched some videos on the Romans and then talked about sharing Jesus with people – overall super Great Stuff!

    Since I was at “the Meeting House” this last week and spoke directly with Bruxy – Ha! It was great to be there for the Q & A afterwards where questions on outreach and sharing Jesus were addressed. This week towards the end of his message, he gives those “Five ways to respond when you’re stumped” –

    1. That’s a great question.
    2. I don’t know.
    3. I’m going to look into it.
    4. Thank you.
    5. But here is one thing I do know….

    This is a great strategy to take on board when sharing the Gospel with others, especially when it comes to issues like the Trinity & Predestination, etc… One of things that I found, was that attending Home church groups, both at Woodland Hills and at The Meeting House, really helped to flesh out the application, through prayer and discussion, the finer details of those awesome Sunday messages. Obviously, as “Podrishioners” it’s always not easy to get to either place and we often fellowship and liaise at a distance – which is great, but….. it could be better!

    What I’d like to really see, is for Woodland Hills and the Meeting House to have live feed during the services and potentially during study classes afterwards were those across the country or abroad can participate online and also be able to potentially join in via Skype, FaceTime, etc… Several churches I know of already do this very efficiently and manage the virtual space appropriately.

    Crossroads Community Church out of Vancouver Washington [Daniel Fusco’s tribe – Ha! and you think Bruxy has cool hair – you ain’t seen noth’in!] does this where they have a monitored chat space live online during the services – its great! Why not do it afterwards as well during bible study and small group discussion (?) I as well as others, I’m sure would be willing even to pay an extra “fee” to support the endeavor and to be able to tap in. – Something maybe to seriously consider for the future.

    Reply

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