As we continue exploring what it means to disciple for God’s Great Commission we must see this as an ongoing task that is somewhat difficult. We are called to be going, baptizing, and teaching everyone to obey all that Jesus commanded so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Yet, there is another crucial component to making disciples. As a church we must not become satisfied with the present state of lostness in our community, but we need to seek to engage the culture with the gospel. We must see ourselves as missionaries to this community. We must see the church as a missionary to this culture.
The best way to illustrate this is by looking at Paul’s encounter with the people of Athens on Mars Hill in Acts 17.
Read Acts 17:16-34
There are many similarities between the Athenians of Paul’s day and our current postmodern, believe in anything culture. Paul’s missionary method or approach to sharing the gospel is markedly different here than when he was dealing with Jews in the synagogues. The Jews were believed in one God and embraced the Old Testament Scriptures. Paul could reason from the Old Testament with convincing proofs that Jesus was indeed the Messiah prophesied to come and save Israel. But with a pagan culture that believed in a pantheon of gods, Paul’s approach was different.
What do observe in this account and how what does it teach us about Emmanuel being a Great Commission church?
As Paul walks around this city with all of its architecture, beauty, philosophy, and grandeur, his spirit is provoked within him at the widespread idolatry.
The word “provoked” means that he was burning with irritation and anger. The idol worship extremely bothered him deeply. He was expressing inner indignation.
He was viewing the city through the eyes of God Himself. Idolatry is the number one sin that angers God.
How do we respond in our culture at the idolatry that is so prevalent? Are we bothered by it?
Paul could have come to this great city of Athens as a tourist to take in the scenery while he was waiting for Timothy and Silas to join him. Instead, he begins to engage the culture and truly see it as God sees it.
I’m afraid that for most of us, we act like tourists admiring the culture. Being lulled into its clutches and being mesmerized by all it has to offer. Instead of being a tourist, we are called to be missionaries who engage the culture.
Are we truly bothered by rampant idolatry and sin in our culture and how it is affecting people all around us?
I also believe that we need to have this inner anger over idolatry, but mixed with genuine compassion for the plight of people. In reality, lost people are “Prisoners of War”. They are POW’s captured by sin, the world, and the devil. We need to be broken over their plight.
Jesus expressed this same compassion for lost humanity.
Matthew 9:36 6 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
As a Great Commission church, we need to be bothered by the idolatry in our culture as well as brokenhearted over the lostness of people.
Spend time in prayer asking God to reveal the idols in your own heart. What idols are prevalent in Northeastern Colorado? How can we as a church begin to address these? Ask God for wisdom as you pray for our community.