Monday, August 14, 2017
God had sent Paul on a missionary journey and one of his stops was in Athens. He needed to stay there while he was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him. It is during this time that he gave one of his most famous sermons at a place called Mars Hill. I’ve highlighted verse 23 because there is a lot we can learn from his style of engaging with people who don’t necessarily see the world as you or I might.
For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.
Things to think about:
· I love this little excerpt because it says so much about how to reach people.
o I walked around
§ Paul was in Greece, a very foreign place for a well-bred Jew. Rather than keep to himself, he went about into the area and explored it.
o I looked carefully at your stuff
§ He made it a point to be observant of their culture, the things that were of interest to the local people.
o I especially remember this one thing
§ Paul calls out on item in particular that gave him a point of connection from which he could share the good news.
· Paul was very intentional in his approach. He got out of his comfort zone and steeped himself in the culture of the folks of Athens. He wanted to know what they believed, not just tell them what he believed. He even identified a specific, relevant example that provided a door through which he and they could walk.
o What else do you notice about Paul’s style of engagement?
o How different of an approach is that compared to today where many just want to scream/tweet louder than the next person?
· Let’s get level set on what’s going on here and take a step back:
o While he was mingling with the locals, he spoke with all kinds, not just likeminded people (Jews, God-fearing Greeks, as well as whoever happened to be there). Paul was not an intellectual or religious snob.
o Just like today, there were hyper-liberals (Epicureans) and hyper-conservatives (Stoics). And just like today, they insulted him by calling him a babbler and peddler of weird ideas.
o They basically put him on their version of a talk show to interview him on his wacky philosophy. It is at this point he makes his observation about their altar to an Unknown God.
· He effortlessly pivots from this Unknown God to the one true God who created everything, gives life to everyone, as well as everything we need. For in Him we live and move and have our very being.
o God determined the times and places of all human history so men might seek Him and reach out to Him, though He is not far from each of us.
§ He is still doing this today! You are who you are and where you are by His perfect design so you can know Him.
· But the real stumper for the men of Athens was the assertion that Jesus was raised from the dead.
o vv. 30-34 - …but now He commands all people everywhere to repent. For He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead. When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” At that, Paul left the Council. Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed.
· Did you ever think that in 2017 you would wind up where you live? (I didn’t!) But here we are by God’s perfect plan.
o If you haven’t already, now is a good time to seek Him and reach out to Him. In Him we have our very being!
o If you have already taken the step of faith and turned to the one God has made Judge, then how can you take a lesson from Paul to understand other’s points of view and have rational discussions to shed truth amid darkness?
o Not everyone will believe but that is between him or her and God. The important thing is that we partake in His work and help others to believe in The Known God.