Three thoughts on Paul's Athens experience
Paul in Athens is faced with two dilemmas: how to capture the attention of the chattering classes, and how to retain it in the face of many competing – and often superficially more attractive – philosophies.
Here’s how he does it.
By being distressed at idolatry. We are surrounded by idolatry all the time, much as Paul was, and it is tempting to take it for granted as part of the scene. It’s the way life is, we think. Not so Paul. His example reminds us that we need to pray for a sharper response: not paralyzing fear, but a distress which propels us into the public arena. Pray for the Holy Spirit to drive you into places of influence, exposure and risk, and pray for all of us, as pioneers and visionaries in God’s church, that we may be equally distressed on behalf of God’s Kingdom. IDOLATRY SUCKS!
By being able to talk the languages of the age. No one knows who the poet is whom Paul quotes in building connections between the inchoate spirituality of the Athenians and the Christian gospel. But clearly his hearers knew, and it was part of his strategy for holding them long enough to speak about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pray for apologists, theologians and thinkers – and pray for your study, that we may have the discernment, insights and skills needed to speak the languages of the age. CULTURE COMMUNICATES!
Paul’s refusal to compromise with the spirits of the age. He may build bridges for his audience from the known to the unknown, but he is uncompromising in his proclamation. Jesus alone is Saviour, Jesus’ resurrection is the only hope for us. Our failure to respond to the good news leads directly to judgement. And so finally we pray for all who in telling the truth face mockery, apathy, and in some cases virulent opposition, and we ask for God to place his angels and watchers in protection over them, and us. TRUTH MATTERS!