Sensitivity and tolerance are not curse words.
NOVEMBER 2, 2022
Sensitivity and tolerance are not curse words. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
Key Life is a radio program for struggling believers, sick of phony religion and pious clichés. Our host and teacher is seminary professor Steve Brown. He teaches that radical freedom leads to infectious joy and surprising faithfulness.
Thank you Matthew. We’re looking at the 17th chapter of Acts in our study of Acts. And we’re looking at, what do you say if you find yourself talking to intellectuals. And we’re using Paul as our example. Now, we’re going to see, and I’m gonna talk about it later. He was not together that successful. In fact, the ministry he had with intellectuals in Athens was one of the biggest bombs in his entire ministry. And by the way, and there’s something to learn from this and we’ll see it when we get there. He went from Athens to Corinth, which was his biggest success. And those two things are sometimes connected, but we’re looking at what he did. And obviously because Luke included it, it can be a good model for us. And we noticed that he was willing to bend. In other words, he was willing to go to them in their place, to speak their language, and to identify with them. Sometimes we don’t do that. We hang out with only Christians. We only use Christian words, and go to Christian movies, and read Christian books, and it’s no wonder that the leaven, the salt doesn’t get into the bread. We’re just a lump of leaven because we haven’t gone where they are the way Paul did. So, he’s willing to do that. And we looked at I Corinthians 9:19 through 22, which is an amazing statement of Paul’s identifying with them. Let me show you something else. Paul was not only willing to bend, he was also given a double portion of tact, of sensitivity. Look at the 22nd verse.
So Paul, standing in the middle of the Areopagus, said:, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are religious.
Now the King James translation says, are superstitious. But the Greek word doesn’t mean that, the Greek word literally means much given to reverence. And it does have a trace of irony to it, but it also is a semi compliment. Notice Paul could have said, Look, you’re all going to hell, and I’m going to tell you how you don’t have to. He could have said, man, I can’t believe you believe this nonsense. Anybody with the brains of a peanut wouldn’t believe this kind of stuff. You don’t know anything. And I know about Jesus and I’m going to tell you about him. And if, some saints would say, well, Paul sold out. No, he didn’t sell out. Tolerance isn’t a cuss word. Tact is not a cuss word. Being sensitive is not a cuss word. It’s the place where we’re called, Romans 12:18.
If possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peaceably with all people.
I Corinthians 10:32
Give no offense to anyone, Jews or Greeks.
There was a young Englishman who was very, a very poor shot, and his attendant and his servant, didn’t want to offend him. The young Englishman said to his servant, I didn’t do well today, did I? No, the young man said, you did fine. But God was very merciful to the birds we need some of that. We need some sensitivity to those outside, and when we go to them with our message, we need to be sensitive to what they hear. Listen, what we believe is weird. You say, no it’s not. It’s wisdom, it’s truth, it’s the revelation of God himself. Yes, it’s all of that, but we’ve been doing it so long that we forget how weird it sounds to people on the outside. And so, you’ve got to listen, you’ve got to pay attention, you’ve got to bend, and then you’ve got to be sensitive to speak the language of the people to whom you are sent. Missionaries know that, they spend a year learning the language of the country where they will serve. We need to spend a lot of time learning the language of America, learning the language of Canada, learning the language of our neighborhood, learning the language of the people to whom God has sent to us, and then to be sensitive toward it. You, I think this woke stuff is nonsense. Frankly, there’s a lot going on in my culture right now that causes me to wince. And I think they’re smoking too much pot. They’re saying stuff that are so crazy, things that are so crazy that I just can’t believe they’re saying those things and I don’t believe they really do believe them. But I’ll tell you something, I pay attention. And I try to be careful not to be offensive when I’m talking about Jesus. I can win the arguments on wokeism. I’m a good debater and I have a glib tongue and you don’t want to debate me cause I’ll win. But God told me to reign it in, to learn the language, to not be offensive because that is Jesus’ job description. So, let him be the one who brings offensive, bring offense. It’s the microphone. Let him be the one that brings offense, not you. Okay? Paul knew that and he was careful. When he went to them to speak a language that they could hear. You think about that. Amen.
Sensitivity and tolerance are not curse words. I don’t know about you, but I feel triggered. Thank you Steve. We’ve been talking all week about what to say when you find yourself talking to intellectuals, and we will wrap up that conversation tomorrow. Hope you will join us then. Well, I think it’s clear from the story told here in Acts 17 that great answers start with great questions. And here’s a great question. Why did Jesus have to die? Well, Steve gave a sermon a while back on that very subject, and I think it’ll help answer that question. Take a listen to part of that talk. Then I’ll be back to tell you about a special free offer. Here’s Steve.
When you are old, you forget names, but you remember the tears and the pain. I was a young pastor. It was three o’clock in the morning when I got the call, and I rushed to the home of a family that I loved, and the flames were coming out of the roof. They all escaped except the father. I remember the teenage girl, as she saw me coming, ran into my arms and wept. And I remember what she said. She said, Pastor, why did my father have to die? It was years later in Boston. I probably was saved. I just didn’t know Jesus. When another teenage girl in my study said, Mr. Brown, I don’t understand. Why did Jesus have to die? You know what I did? I gave her a book cause I wasn’t exactly sure, but I never saw those teenage girls. I don’t remember their names. I keep thinking that maybe they’re grown now with their children and they’ll be in some conference where I’m teaching, maybe in a church service like this one, cause I found some answers and I would like to share them with them. I was invited back to that first church for their hundredth anniversary and always wanted to go there cause I found some things that I didn’t know when I was serving as their pastor. It was a little church and you visited a hospital, there was never more than one there, and then you could fish and play golf the rest of the time. All they wanted you to do was talk for 15 minutes, and I’ve always been able to do that. So, I’d stand in a pulpit, talk for 15 minutes, and then Jesus came and screwed it up. He’s been doing that with my life, but I always said, Lord, let me go back and tell him the truth. I got to go back and I said, I know what I taught you and I know what I said. And, but listen carefully cause I’ve got some corrections to make. But let me tell you, there were a thousand crosses. Jesus wasn’t the only, there are people who died with more pain and suffering than Jesus ever experienced. That’s not the issue. It wasn’t the length of the pain, it was the person who faced the pain. It wasn’t a little Jewish rabbi handing spread eagle on cross beams, on the town garbage heap. It was God entering time and space and you go Woo, I can’t believe that. I, God did that for me? You’re going to die. Most of you, it’s going to be a quiet slipping away. Some of you’re going to struggle and if it’s commensurate with sins, I’m going to die in great pain cause I, cause I’m going home and it’ll be over. But a lot of people die. We all die. Big deal. But when the eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God of the universe, enters time and space and hangs spread eagle on cross beams between two thieves, that is something else. He did, the cross. Why? Why did he have to die? Couldn’t he have done it another way? It seems to me reasonable. I think that teenager had it right. He could have lived longer and loved us more and taught us more profoundly. I mean, we could have understood the answers to our questions if he just stayed around. How come he died so soon? We got four little books and that’s all, we ought to have volumes and volumes as John said. Well, I don’t know. He could have, why did he have to die? Well, I’ve got four or five reasons I’m going to share with you very quickly.
Guys, trust me. You are going to really enjoy this full sermon and we will mail it to you on a CD, for free today. Just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. You could also drop an e-mail to Ste[email protected] to ask for that CD. By mail, send your request to
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