How should we talk to people about God?
A friend of mine recently told the story about how when he was growing up, his parents faithfully took he and his siblings to church on Sunday mornings. As their family drove to church, he remembers driving by people on their bikes, out for a ride on the country roads. One time, with the windows of the car rolled down, he and his siblings yelled out, “You should be in church!”
Why would they do that? You can imagine a child repeating the words they heard from their parents, probably many times: “Look at those people, they should be in church,” a parent might say. I don’t know if my friend’s parents said that. But I have heard adults say that. It takes child-like freedom, however, to actually yell it out to people.
Were either the kids or the parents right? Is showing up for a church worship service all that Jesus actually wants? No. While Jesus clearly wants Christians to gather and support one another, there is more he desires. How we talk about God reveals what we believe about what Jesus desires. So how do we talk about God in a way that is consistent with Jesus’ desires?
Too often we are like the kids who yell out, “You should be in church!” Think about how you talk about God to people. Do you communicate that following Jesus amounts to doing certain things and not doing others? If so, why do some of us feel comfortable with talking about God that way? Is it possible that we are talking about God and what it means to believe in and follow him in the wrong way?
In this series of five posts on Acts 24-26, we’re going to look at how the Apostle Paul talked about God. No longer is he with the Jews, as we studied in the previous series. In Acts 22-23, Paul spoke with Jews, his own people, with whom he had much common ground. In their sacred scriptures, the Hebrew Bible, which we Christians call The Old Testament, Jewish prophecies foretold of a Messiah, a savior who would come to rescue Israel. Paul declared to the Jews that Jesus was that promised Messiah. As we learned last week when we studied Acts chapters 22-23, the crowd of Jews in Jerusalem wasn’t buying it. In fact they wanted to kill him. So the Roman military escorted Paul under cover of night to the Roman city of Caesarea. Now, as Jesus told Paul in a dream in Acts 23:11, Paul has begun a journey that will take him to the capital of the Empire, Rome. How will he talk about God to the Romans? In the rest of this week’s blog series, we’ll find out, and we just might learn from Paul how to talk about God in our day and age.