PODCAST: CHRISTIANITY: BORING, UNTRUE & IRRELEVANT? The first session of The Alpha Course, Nicky Gumbel talks about how the church is viewed by outsiders and sometimes by many already in attendance; as Boring, Untrue and Irrelevant. I can relate to much of this as I was growing up in the church. As a kid I always liked Sunday School, VBS, Youth Activities  and Retreats. I just did not “get” church until many years later. One of the problems is that in many ways we have lost focus of what being the church should be. We now have a culture of “Christian Entertainment” that in and of itself isn’t bad. It is however, ultimately unsustainable. So we need to somehow understand our faith in terms of an adventure. Adventure-like Moses  (in the desert), David on the run from Saul), Elijah (in the hideout from Jezebel). Paul on his Mission Trips. The prophet Jeremiah addresses this in his time by stating: 

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.”  declares the LORD,   Jeremiah 29:13-14 

Seek God, with all your heart…That’s an Adventure/Challenge particularly Today. Then as we consider what it is to understand Christianity to be True in the world we live in. We need to remember that The Truth Jesus is talking about/suggesting is not the scientific truth (Veritas) offered in the laboratory. Hypothesis + Physical evidence=Truth. Jesus instead is referring to revealed truth. He shares with the Samaritan Woman at the Well: 

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father  seeks.  John 4:23 

True Worshippers-(God revealed through Christ)-Spirit (The Holy Spirit) Allows us to be able to do what we can’t on our own. The Kind of Worshippers-God Seeks. In the 17th Chapter of Acts we find Paul in Athens (the center of Philosophy & Wisdom). Paul is speaking to a totally secular group of philosophers and local politicians at a place called the Areogapas. This place is the culmination of the idea Aristotle had of Ekklēsia-(peopled called together) in Koinōnia (loving fellowship) to listen to each other. The early church adopted this as their model of gathering. It is here Paul has his greatest challenge in ministry to these people who (just as today in our society) see God as Untrue &/or Irrelevant. One of the attributes of this place was a monument to the Greek gods (all of them)…and in case they left one out they had a monument for “The Unknown God” it is here Paul gives them context, He says: 

I was walking along I saw your many altars. And one of them had this inscription on it — ‘To an Unknown God.’ You have been worshiping him without knowing who he is…  Acts 17:23 

The one god you had as an insurance policy is the one True God. The same is true today. Believing in God just in case it’s true. So Paul decides to tell them about this “Unknown god” in a way they could understand. Paul knows to be able to explain Jesus to unbelievers you need to be able to tell a story. As Jesus did in teaching through parables. Like we do with our children. Often it is in those stories where we find Truth. So Paul proceeds to explain to these people…God’s Purpose, Saying: 

His purpose in all of this was that the nations should seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him — though he is not far from any one of us.” Acts 17:27 

God’s purpose is in The Adventure of seeking him & finding him—He is not far…the Greeks believed the gods lived on Mt Olympus (160+ miles away)..Paul tells them the one true God is not far away. A new concept (one that got the philosopher Socrates killed). The Areogapas was surround by monuments to gods/things that represented God. Paul was letting them the know the presence of God. His Transforming Love. As right here among us. Paul continues this portrayal of a different kind of God stating: 

God overlooked people’s former ignorance about these things, but now he commands everyone everywhere to turn away from idols and turn to him.    Acts 17:30 

Paul who was fluent in the Greek language is now addressing these Greeks in their own language. As Paul is telling them to “turn away from idols” he is referring to the monuments there at the Areogapas. He is also using the Greek word-Agnoeō (where we get the word Agnostic). Commonly used today. For I can’t  believe fully. It is only when Christ is revealed that we can truly believe. Then there is the issue of Christianity being irrelevant. Jesus himself dealt with this among his own disciples. John’s Gospel records a conversation between Jesus and Thomas. 

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.  John 14:6 

3 very distinctive understandings of how Jesus is relevant. First, when Jesus says I Am The Way-implying He is the path for ALL of us. Particularly in our hour of need. The Prophet Isaiah described him as: 

A voice of one calling:  “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD”  Isaiah 40:3

 In the desert times in our lives. It is Christ who makes a away. He is the one who left us with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus also says I Am The TruthJesus tells all that would follow him: 

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  Mark 8:32 

Hold to my teachings-Love God…Love One Another—You will know the Truth. It’s a large part of our mission here at Splendora Countryside. That is how we realize Transformation in this community-It will and does set us Free.

Then Jesus says that I Am The Life. That word “Life” used always and often in the Gospel of John. The Greek word Zao (The Good Life). As John is opening his gospel and describing Jesus he adds: 

Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone.    John 1:4 

This Life (Zao)..in Him (Jesus)…Even the baby in a manger. It gives Light..to everyone. Why we use that imagery for our benediction as we leave this place. You are The Light of the World…(from the Sermon on the Mount). So, we consider this question that the world around us seems to ask: 

 Is there more to life than this???

 

We remember that John later records Jesus saying: 

I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. Wherever they go, they will find green Pastures… My purpose… is to give life in all its fullness.    John 10:9-10 

May we be the facilitators of this Life for our community. That when we come to know this Life we find that Christianity is Never Boring…It is the Ultimate Truth…and it is Extremely Relevant.

 

 

 

 

 

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