Cross-cultural Ministry

Food Offered to Idols: A Contemporary Issue

Reposted from Rooted Thinking. This post originally appeared at GFA’s blog Commissioned, where you can find more missions-related content.

Billions of people in today’s world worship idols, angels, spirits of the dead/ancestors, and other spiritual powers.1 People have been worshiping demons and idols since the Fall. God’s people ever since have had to learn how to honor the One True and Living God in a pagan world.

Many believers in Christ today share a dilemma quite similar to that of Corinth in New Testament times. They are confused about how to live out their faith in relation to the pagan community around them. What are they to do about eating food offered to idols? How they answer this question will prove vital to their faith.

A Serious Matter

This issue is more important than many who are from a Christian-influenced, secularized, or monotheistic religious background readily understand.2 Cultures dedicated to this kind of pagan worship are dominated by public religious festivals and regular rituals. Community and family life revolve around these observances. Involvement in all this is the major expression of community, ethnic pride, unity, and even patriotism.

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Peoples and Languages, Not Political Boundaries

More than ever before we need to see cross-cultural missions as advancing the Gospel among peoples and language groups, not merely reaching those within certain political boundaries. This distinction is becoming increasingly important as our world grows integrated through a global economy and technology. Peoples and languages, not countries—this is what I would like to emphasize.

COVID-19 has taught the world how easy it is to lock down whole countries, to control the flow of travel. Internet “footprints” and rapidly developing facial recognition make it so that people can be easily tracked and known. That means that it is now easier than ever before to keep people out that a country doesn’t want in and keep people in that it doesn’t want out. Many of us have been sensing where all of this is headed, and thoughts about the end times are on our minds.

Even before this past year, I was already quite burdened to communicate about this topic. Countries have already been denying access over its borders because of political contention or religious fanaticism. We talk a lot about “open” and “closed” countries when discussing missions. Is there a way to think about missions that will help us more effectively reached people in and from those “closed” places? Yes, there is!

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