Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Thursday, October 29, 2015
A television series called "The Power of Spirits" is now in its tenth season. Next month, Oslo will host "Alternative Expo," which The New York Times describes as "a jamboree of the occult featuring Tibetan eye-readers, New Age crystal collectors and hundreds of other practitioners of alternative faiths."
On the positive side, the Bible has become the best-selling book in Norway, even beating out Fifty Shades of Grey. There is indeed a "God-shaped emptiness" in us all.
How do we help people fill that emptiness with him?
Yesterday I noted that every Christian has a Kingdom assignment, a calling to join God in advancing the gospel around the world. (Tweet this)Today we note the importance of preparation to fulfill our calling.
Paul was called to be God's "missionary to the Gentiles" (Acts 9:15; Galatians 2:7). In one sense, no one was less likely a candidate for such a vocation. While he was born in Tarsus, a predominantly Gentile city, Paul was raised in Jerusalem and "educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers" (Acts 22:3).
This "strict manner" would have insulated Paul from all Gentile influences. He became a member of the Pharisees (the name means "separated ones"), the most zealous legalists in the nation. It's hard to imagine that he spent time with Gentile customs and culture.
Yet in Acts 17 we find Paul able to dialogue with the leading Greek intellectuals of his day. Rather than cite the Hebrew Bible (which he knew they would dismiss), he quoted their own poets, specifically Epimenides and Aratus. As a result, Dionysius the Areopagite became a follower of Jesus. According to ancient tradition, Dionysius then founded the Greek Orthodox Church, a communion of more than twenty million today.
Paul learned the ways and customs of a society that had been completely foreign to him just a few years earlier. And he was able to take the gospel to that culture so effectively that the "West" would become synonymous with Christendom for centuries.
Years ago I heard a wise mentor state, "The Holy Spirit has a strange affinity for the trained mind." The more prepared we are, the more usable we are.
What is your Kingdom assignment? In other words, where do you have influence today? (Tweet this) With whom do you have the relational capital and personal credibility necessary to help people follow Jesus?
What do you know about those you are called to serve? Do you know their needs, wants, and challenges? Their interests and passions?
Paul's strategy was simple: "I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel" (1 Corinthians 9:22-23). How will you prepare today to reach someone tomorrow?
Publication date: October 29, 2015
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