Message: Culture Makers: The Elite
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Paddy McCoy
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Kyle Smith
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Acts 17:16–33 in The Message (MSG). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I’ll admit, I have this weird tendency to watch a movie with the lens of the Gospel covering my eyes. What I mean by this is that I believe every good story—whether the author intended it or not, whether the author knows God or not—has a thread of the Gospel in it. Why do I believe this? Because I believe this story is wired into our DNA. We were created by God for God, whether we realize it or not. So when I watch a movie, it’s not just for entertainment purposes; it’s also to see where the Gospel is hiding. This also gives me the opportunity to make a connection with others in talking about what we’ve watched and what in the world it may have to do with Jesus.
Acts 17 is one of my favorite chapters concerning Paul in the New Testament, because I believe his actions give us a formula for how to share the Gospel outside the walls of our churches. Because Paul goes to Athens alone, he wanders the streets and observes the Athenians—their culture, their writings, and their value system. As he observes, he finds the thread of the Gospel message and evidence of the God of creation in how they live their lives. He attempts to help them see what’s right in front of their faces.
First, it’s the idol made to an unknown God. “Aha!” Paul says, “there’s a connecting point.” Then he addresses them by saying, “What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” At this point, he tells them about the one and only true God, but in his discourse you can also tell that he’s been reading their authors and poets. He quotes two of their authors by saying, “In Him [God] we live and move and have our being,” and “For we are indeed his offspring.” So Paul was able to observe Athenian culture, find threads of the Gospel, and weave them together to help the people see who the true Creator of life and Savior of the world was.
In our tribe, we’ve struggled for years to know what it really means to be in the world but not of it (John 17:15-17). Go too far in one direction and you hide from the world and can no longer connect with anyone in it. Too far on in the opposite direction and your values can easily fail to reflect those of Christ. It is a delicate balance for sure, but I believe that if we learn to wear our “Gospel lenses” wherever we go, we will stay true to our beliefs and help connect others to God.
Recalibrate: What do you think it means to be “in the world but not of the world,” and how many relationships and connections do you have with those outside your church?
Respond: Pray for God to give you an opportunity to share the Gospel with a neighbor or friend by connecting their story with His story.
Research: Watch a favorite movie or reread a favorite book, actively looking for a theme that relates to Scripture and the story of God and our redemption.
Pick up your child’s favorite toy. What are some of the reasons they love that toy so much? How can you use that toy to tell a message about Jesus? Maybe it's a blanket that is comforting, a musical instrument that brings joy, or a stuffed animal that never leaves their side. Find ways to share Jesus with your child that connect to their lives and circles of influence.
What is something that reminds you of Jesus? Maybe your parents? A toy? A really big tree? What is it about that thing that makes you think of Him? Next time something normal makes you think of Jesus, share it with the person you’re with!
I went to public school growing up. Sometimes I felt like the only Christian in my school. Do you have any friends who aren't Jesus followers? What are some things you hold in common that you can use to show them who Jesus is?