“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” (Acts 17:32).
When the Apostle Paul entered the city of Athens, it must have been impressive, seeing the sights of the ancient Grecian city. Towering over the city on the Acropolis he would see the Temple of Nike and the Temple of Athena (the Parthenon). No doubt he walked up that 500 foot hill to see the famous statue of Athena with her golden spear. Perhaps he entered the 17,000 seat Theater of Dionysius at the foot of the hill. As he walked through the Agora (public marketplace), or
listened to the debates on Mars Hill, what was inescapable were the countless shrines, temples, and statues to idols. The people of Athens were VERY religious.
But Paul was no simple tourist. His missionary heart was directing his tourist feet. While it must have been heart-breaking to see the Athenians misdirecting their worship, it was helpful for Paul as he looked to share the truth. Paul was doing what missionaries do in a strange city. He got in tune with the local culture. He expressed interest in what was going on in the city. He got up to date with the lifestyle of the people with whom he wanted to communicate. He took an interest in their lives, and he made Christianity relevant to them. He got a public audience with the leaders of the city, and he engaged them with topics familiar to them. People were listening; people were interested as he reasoned and debated and quoted their local poets.
What ended the public discussion? When he turned the conversation to Jesus and talked about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Some wanted to hear more… others sneered. It was time to leave.
Maybe you’ve had this experience, or maybe the fear of this kind of reaction has kept you from turning some of your casual conversations in a more serious spiritual direction.
My encouragement to you today is to ask God for boldness. As Christians we can go through life only saying the things that everyone can agree with. We can stick to the safe topics. We can be passionate about so many temporary things of this life. But we also know that in the end they are insignificant. We live in a world of searching people. They are trying to fill a void in their lives, looking for causes to be passionate about, wanting to care about, love, and even worship something. We know what they need. They need a Savior who forgives sins and raises the dead.
So the next time you’re talking about
the NFL draft, move the conversation to a God who has picked them and wants to sign them to His team.
saving the planet, tell them about a God who saves souls and is making a new heaven and new earth.
your favorite book, favorite store, favorite music, and favorite hobby could be chances to share your favorite obsession, Jesus Christ.
Is it risky to turn the conversation this way? Absolutely. It’s also the most loving thing you can do with the people you care about in your life.
May God bless you and give you boldness to be His missionary!