There are many things which can distress us in this world, and in particular in the North American culture. What distresses you the most?
After thinking through that question for a while, read Acts 17:16-34 and see how Paul handles things which distress him in the Greek and Roman culture?
As Paul is waiting in Athens, "he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols". But how did he respond? Did he put together a campaign to protest the idols in the city? Did he gather the church in worship so that he could preach against the evils of the Greek and Roman culture of the day?
No. Paul "reasoned" with Jews, Greeks, and even Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. He did not start by condemning them. He started by speaking their language. He "reasoned" with them. And after "reasoning" with them he gained a hearing. So let's look at Paul's message. What did he say, and how did he say it?
(Read verses 22-31)
Paul begins by recognizing that they are "very religious", then he uses one of their own cultural symbols (an idol to "the unknown god") as an opportunity to share the truth about God and the good news Jesus brings.
In the end, he still calls them to "repent" (see verse 30) and explains the truth that there is only one God, who sent His Son Jesus to judge the world with justice (notice this is Jesus' job and not ours). And Paul proclaims the truth that Jesus is the true Son of God because He was raised from the dead.
All the elements of the good news are there. Jesus as Lord, Savior (through His life, death, and resurrection), and rightful judge. But Paul does not begin with judgment, rather he begins by working within the culture to present the good news in a way people can understand.
So what do we learn from this? How should we handle things in our culture which distress us?
Let's discuss ...