Bible 11: Knowing our Hindu Neighbor Back to Blog »
In Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, and Titus 1:12 we learn that Paul was able to quote his pagan neighbor in order to teach the truth of God. Isn’t that interesting? For example, in Acts 17:28 Paul quotes Epimenides and Aratus. Paul didn’t quote these pagans to chastise them for their stupidity, rather, he did so to find that God was already at work in their hearts. One of our most beloved texts in Acts as it relates to the teaching that our God is imminent comes from a pagan poet! “For in Him we live and move and have our being.” A strike of irony! Paul was able to quote these pagans because he was familiar with their writings.
How familiar am I with my religious neighbor so as to effectively communicate the Gospel as Paul does in Acts 17? Our World Religions course at Westside is key for developing and fostering a healthy and honest respect for our religious neighbor. To foster such respect we took our annual field trip to the Hindu Temple where the Swami hospitably gave our Christian group a tour. As we are learning from our Hindu neighbor, our very presence is a witness and testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is one reason I call it a mini-missions trip! As Jesus did before, I think He would do it again, that is, He wouldn’t take the longer trip around His neighbor (to avoid them), but He would instead move through His convictions in an honest way and thus meet His neighbor in rich, engaging dialogue (John 3-4; both with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman). Our Westside students did a phenomenal job listening to the Hindu priest and even engaging on hard topics which differentiate our faith traditions.
Our World Religions course is designed to transform our heart into a heart that is broken for anyone that doesn’t yet know the Lord. It says in Acts 17:16, “While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” My prayer every year is that we would learn to have this same distressed outlook on our world, not seeking to avoid tough discussions (which is always easier) but moving through our convictions in an attempt to find value, dignity, and worth in our neighbor. How am I doing? Am I distressed for my neighbor like Paul to the point of engaging them in discussion with the Gospel? Engaging another human being in this way is when the Word of God, Jesus Christ, is most clearly seen.