Us and Them

We often create a black and white distinction between people inside the church and those who don’t attend.

Acts 17.16-34

Reference: v.19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?” (NIV Bible)

Explore: I think I must be hanging out with the wrong crowd.  Whenever I meet someone for the first time and we finally get around to the ‘job’ question, I’m always honest and say that I’m a minister.  It’s at this point that I brace myself as apparently the person is suppose to respond aggressively, saying hurtful things about my Saviour and then walking away after spitting in my face.  However, I am yet to experience such harsh behaviour.  Most people I meet are actually intrigued that such a young, beautiful female (ok, so I added the beautiful!!!) works within the realms of a church.  The braver people will ask questions about my role and often share a personal experience they have had with the church.  They certainly don’t give me the persecution that I am apparently supposed to be receiving.
In this passage Paul is invited to address a powerful, philosophical group in Athens.  As I read how they invited him to speak to their group, listened to his words, responded in their individual ways and then allowed him to leave I was struck by the differences this meeting had compared to when he met with the Pharisees.  The religious leaders we aggressive towards Paul and often had him flogged before he was released and warned never to come back again.  However these philosophers were inviting towards Paul and allowed people to respond in their own way without fear of rejection.

Application: We often create a black and white distinction between people inside the church and those who don’t attend.  It is easier to create categories that put people in either of two boxes: ‘them and us’ or ‘good and evil’.  However, the more you get to know people both inside and outside the church, the more you see God’s love in everyone and unfortunately we also see that there is selfishness and sin in everyone too.  Just because we go to church we are not exempt from doing wrong.  And just because someone does not go to church does not mean they are exempt from expressing love and grace.  We need to start seeing everyone as God’s children, and to express God’s love and grace to all, just as He has done to all.

Prayer: Lord, forgive me for thinking that I am better than others because I attend a Christian gathering every week.  I am humbled by your ever giving love and mercy.  May I have the wisdom to express the same love to everyone I meet today.  Amen.

This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.