2 June 2013

Mind the gap!

How God gets the gospel to more people

So a British soldier in Afghanistan wants to talk to the elders of a local village in Helmand Province. Even if she could speak the local lingo, the elders are not likely to listen to her. How does she get them to hear her important message?

Probably the best way is to tell a friendly soldier in the Afghan army, who in turn can tell the elders in the village. They're more likely to listen to a man, and one of their own.

This is about getting your message across cultural gaps.

So Jesus told his followers to take the message about him out from Jerusalem to Judea, to Samaria and to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1v8]. That was all very well, but they were Jews - who were arch enemies of Samaria! And there were all sorts of language and cultural barriers between them and the rest of the nations of the world.

Acts 8v27 gives us some idea of how God gets the gospel to people across cultural gaps. Here we have Philip. He was a Jew, but he was a Jew who spoke Greek - the common language of the Roman Empire. He was born and brought up outside of Jerusalem, so he was familiar with people foreign to him. The man he met was a Greek-speakingE thiopian who had been visiting Jerusalem because he was interested in the God of the Jews.

Philip was able to explain the good news about Jesus to this African, who in turn became a believer. He then travelled on to his own country to tell the gospel thereto his own people in his own language. God brought two people together who were not exactly the same, but they had enough points of connection to listen to each other sympathetically. The points of connection narrowed the cultural gap enough for the message to get across.

This is why we need St George's Church to be as diverse as possible, so there are as many points of connection with all sorts of people in our community as possible.

This is why every single Christian in St George's is needed to take the message of Jesus to people. Each one will have points of connection that the rest of us don't have - through work, hobbies, school gate, the team we support, language, nationality, age, gender and so on.

It's not that getting across the cultural gap saves people. Only the gospel has the power to save people fromthe sentence of eternal death under God's judgment. But this is the way God gets the gospel to more people. Jesus' commission is for each and every one of us to tell the gospel to people we have connections with.

Simon Smallwood
Pastor – St George's