504 Java Profile

504 Java Profile
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

On the Book of Maps

On the Book of Maps

My wife and I just got back from Greece. The plane landed about 1:30am! on Tuesday. We went on a journey to to retrace many of the Apostle Paul’s missionary efforts. You know, the ones featured in the book after the Revelation in your Bible--the Book of Maps.

I was particularly impressed with a place called Mars Hill which is the location of Paul’s sermon recorded by Dr. Luke in Acts 17. The word, “areopagus” comes from “Ares” who was the Greek god of war and the suffix meaning “hill”-hence, “Mars Hill.” The Scripture tells us that

Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection… 22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

We are His offspring—sons and daughters—and our task is to engage with culture in such a way that we start wherever the culture is and lead them to a discussion of how Jesus came to allow us to be a part of the redemption story that God has written. Paul understood that the culture of the Greeks was such that they entertained any new thought of any new God for fear that they would miss out on something powerful. Paul sought to put one name to one God and that was no simple task for that context.

Our Greek tour guide struggled a bit as she tried to translate her thoughts to English, but at one point she said, “we are going to one of the places where St. Paul did a good job.” Our faithfulness of telling the story of Jesus and our story of Jesus to a cynical culture is what defines a community of faith. I hope that people say of me, long after I am dead and gone, "this is a place that Allen did a good job." I have no illusions. My travels will never be in a map in the back of a Bible, but I would like to think that as I walk and talk with people, I would do a good job.

Paul's life was up and down. He had opposition from without and from within. He battled politicians, church members, other ministers, and sometimes even his own sense of loneliness. Yet, as he looked back over his journey he could say that he fought a good fight.

May it be said of me.

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