Method versus Message

Today I read Leviticus 13-14 and Acts 17. In reading about Paul’s journey to Athens and what he said on Mars Hill, it got me thinking about how certain Christians would have “critiqued” his sermon. In watching what happens to Rick every time he speaks and the ways in which he is type cast and criticized for every little thing he says or doesn’t say to the liking of these groups, I wondered how these same people would have critiqued and criticized Paul for not going far enough in what he said to the people of Athens. Here is what I think they would say:

First, Paul starts out by validating their religious nature without ever condemning them for worshipping the wrong God. Not only does he not condemn them, he actually says the unknown God, which was an idol or statue set up to “hedge their bets,” he basically says he knows who that God is. Doesn’t that mean that Paul would be allowing them to pray to another God? How could he do that?

Second, Paul never mentions the name of Jesus. Sure he alludes to who he is when he says that God sent someone to die who was resurrected. But he never actually says Jesus’ name. What is he ashamed of? He definitely was trying to play up the crowd in some kind of “seeker sensitive” way. The gospel was not clear so he was preaching another gospel.

Though this was a humorous post today it is actually reality when it comes to how Christians, especially in the blog world lately, critique and criticize other believers. Their own standards of judging who is true to the gospel and their obsession with exegeting what other Pastors who do not go along with their brand of Christianity have caused them to be modern day Pharisees who are more concerned with conformity to a set of rules that were never intended or set up in the scriptures. The anger and venom that are spewed in the name of “contending for the faith” looks nothing like the love and healing brought by Christ. Yes obedience is important. Yes we need to guard against false teaching. But to major on the minors and fail to see that there are times to put our faith in context so others outside the faith can begin to relate to and understand it is wrong. When did Jesus expect people to have to understand his language and come to him on his terms? Jesus used parables and other methods to help people who had no understanding of what he was saying to begin to gain understanding. He adjusted the method to fit the person. Yet this group of people will say that there needs to be no adjustment because their failure to understand shows that they really don’t want to know. That is where you have ridiculous commentary criticizing Rick for using the Muslim term “isa” for Jesus, saying he was praying to a false god. Give me a break. If these people ever got out into the mission field they would probably use the same term to say “this issa that you admire is really the messiah, the true son of God.” Why do we limit God?

Lord, help me to not be so caught up in my methods. Help me to understand that the message is what stays consistent not the method or approach to sharing it. Give me wisdom to discern when something is truly off versus my holding on to my method. Amen.
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