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Archive for September 15th, 2021

How To Disagree

MEDITATION:

Written by Matthew Dickerson, a contemporary Christian author and professor of Computer Science at Middlebury College in Vermont. This is an excerpt from a devotional he wrote for the Fuller DePree Center  “Life for Leaders.”

It’s easy to ridicule those who have a different religious, moral, or even political viewpoint than we have, using derogatory or dismissive terms for those we disagree with. In doing so, we build barriers that may prevent people from hearing the Gospel. Perhaps instead we should follow Paul’s example: trying to understand those around us who do not hold the same views we have, and looking for evidence of spiritual hunger, wisdom, and God’s ongoing revelation. Paul’s sermon at the Areopagus to the people of Athens is a watershed moment in Christian history. It’s the first time we read of Paul preaching in a public non-Jewish setting…Paul, in this message, starts by affirming them, noting how they are “very religious.” It would have been tempting for a devout Jew like Paul to see only the false beliefs of their pagan religions and to dismiss everything the Athenians believed—perhaps with a tone of ridicule or disdain… Paul does not begin his message by telling the people of Athens how awful they are, or how terrible their culture is, or even how wrong they are…Instead, he finds something about the Athenian culture he can affirm: a glimmer of wisdom and truth even in a false belief system…Rather than building more barriers through antagonistic language, Paul seeks to break down barriers and open doors of understanding…It’s easy for Christians to look at our culture and ridicule those who don’t hold our worldview—who have a different religious, moral, or even political viewpoint. It’s common in our culture to use derogatory or belittling terms to describe those we disagree with. Sadly, even those who seek to serve Christ can fall into this behavior. When we do so, however, we build more barriers that make it harder to have real communication and understanding; such language and dismissiveness may hinder people from hearing the very Gospel we want them to hear. Perhaps instead we should follow Paul’s example: trying to understand those around us who do not hold the same views we have—looking for and affirming evidence of spiritual hunger, and even a type of wisdom.

PRAYER:

Written by Matthew Dickerson, the author of today’s meditation.

Thank you, Lord, for how you revealed truth about yourself to the people of Athens even through their pagan myths, helping to prepare their hearts for the true Gospel that would be preached to them by Paul. Thank you for Paul’s gentleness in preaching the good news of Jesus in a secular setting, and for his example of getting to know something about the secular culture to which he was bearing witness of the truth. Help me to learn from Paul’s example. Give me a deeper understanding of those around me that will enable me to build bridges rather than walls. Amen.

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