ACTS – The Acts of God
We want others to know Christ. We love Jesus and we are passionate about others knowing Him as well. But how do we tell them? Getting angry at other’s follies in life because they do not know Christ and telling them, “So, how’s that working for you” in a sarcastic way does not show God to them. God is not sarcastic. God is love. We need to love them like Jesus loves us with all our own faults. We need to keep our opinions of their lifestyle to ourselves and center our message solely on Christ. Make Christ the Center and the Known.
Paul did just that as a great example. Notice that as he strolls Athens he is angry by the many shrines of gods he sees but does not express it openly. It is okay to be angry at sin. Jesus was. But it is not okay to “set them straight” in an angry way.
Paul settles his thoughts and controls his emotions as he asks them to tell him about their gods and idols to them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously.” He changes his tone from anger to fascinated which amuses and teaches me.
He introduces Truth by beginning where they are. Brilliant! Then when he has a listening, interested audience, off he goes!
Acts 17, The Message
16 The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.
17-18 He discussed it with the Jews and other like-minded people at their meeting place. And every day he went out on the streets and talked with anyone who happened along. He got to know some of the Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals pretty well through these conversations. Some of them dismissed him with sarcasm: “What an airhead!” But others, listening to him go on about Jesus and the resurrection, were intrigued: “That’s a new slant on the gods. Tell us more.”
19-21 These people got together and asked him to make a public presentation over at the Areopagus, where things were a little quieter. They said, “This is a new one on us. We’ve never heard anything quite like it. Where did you come up with this anyway? Explain it so we can understand.” Downtown Athens was a great place for gossip. There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.
22-23 So Paul took his stand in the open space at the Areopagus and laid it out for them. “It is plain to see that you Athenians take your religion seriously. When I arrived here the other day, I was fascinated with all the shrines I came across. And then I found one inscribed, to the god nobody knows. I’m here to introduce you to this God so you can worship intelligently, know who you’re dealing with.
24-29 “The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’ Well, if we are the God-created, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to think we could hire a sculptor to chisel a god out of stone for us, does it?
30-31 “God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.”
32-34 At the phrase “raising him from the dead,” the listeners split: Some laughed at him and walked off making jokes; others said, “Let’s do this again. We want to hear more.” But that was it for the day, and Paul left. There were still others, it turned out, who were convinced then and there, and stuck with Paul—among them Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris.
Think about it…
–How is our witness about Christ? Is it all about Him or about how we feel people should behave?
–Paul followed the leading of the Holy Spirit. He was intimate with God. God spoke through Paul in a way the people could understand.
–When we get too emotional, people on see that and not the Savior we are trying to tell them about.
–Tell the Truth…in love.
–Begin where your audience is and allow the Holy Spirit to say what is next.
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have opportunity to speak today. We are Yours. Put Your Message on our lips today. Help us to love like You love.
In Jesus Name, Amen