Same Game, Different Plays
Encounter: Slowly read through Acts 17 for context and begin focusing on verses 16-34. Read through 3 times underlining words or phrases that are making an impression on you. Be open and receptive to what God is showing you and begin to ask why is this important for you to know.
Coach John Gagliardi, of Saint John University, is the winningest coach in college football history with an astounding 421-117-11 record. To say that he's done it in an unconventional way is an understatement. His "winning with no's" approach is noteworthy: No blocking sleds or dummies; no scholarships; no spring practices; no compulsory weightlifting program; no whistles; no "Coach" (players call him John); no tackling in practice (players wear shorts or sweats); no long practices (typically an hour and a half or less).
Donald Miller comments on the genius of his approach, "Players are asked to treat their teammates in the way they would like to be treated, with kindness, graciousness, and altruism. The players work as hard as they want to work, and when they come to practice they do exactly as the coach asks them to do, not because their positions are threatened, but because they care about one another, work as a team, and love their coach because they sense his love for them."
Winning the game was important to Gagliardi, but he knew the only way they were really winning is when they were creating a culture where their plays produce what the game needs most, reflecting the heart of their coach. John will be remembered as more than a coach who won football games, but a person who created a culture within his team that helped his players win at the game of life.
The game is the same for God’s players, but with each team in any generation the plays change. They change as Paul explains to the Greeks, …in order that every person would long for God, feel their way to him and find him, for he is the God who is easy to discover!”
Paul used the Greeks own idols and their altar to “To the Unknown God.” to connect them to their Creator God and unveil why what they were worshipping would never satisfy their deepest needs.
We too are called to be students of our culture in order to “embody” our faith in such a way as we use the things around us to connect people to their Creator through the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Missionaries on the global mission field know that contextualizing their message in a way their hearers will understand is their first priority. The idea is to speak the gospel, the story of God in the heart language of those who will listen.
This Sunday, we will look at how God is writing on our whiteboard, teaching us new plays in order to reach people who most likely know nothing about the Bible and the Good News or at best they have a distorted view of who their Creator is, who Jesus is and what the cross is about that adorns most of our church buildings.
God is inviting us to ask the question, “What is the heart language of the people around me?” How do I like Paul, …become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
In the game with you,
Reflect: Write down in your journal or notebook what you see is important to the people you live around, work with and have relationships with (family, friends, etc.) Begin to pray and think about how God may be connecting with you through those things in your culture or how he is giving you “plays” to win the game of sharing the Good News and making disciples.
Encourage: How can you take the BLESS acronym into your daily life to connect the message of God’s love to those you live your life with. Listen for the heart language of those around you and think of who you can encourage today with the message of God’s love and purpose for another person.
Gather: Discuss in your Life Group, Sunday Study Group or small groups about what it means that the Game is the same but the plays are different in our generation. Talk about what Paul means by becoming all things to all people. Pray for one another for opportunities to put these plays into action in your everyday life.