Wednesday 01 June 2011

Bible Book:

"While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols." (v. 16)

Acts 17:15 - 18:1 Wednesday 1 June 2011


Paul is in Athens, waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him (v.15). He has time on his hands - but he uses that time well ingetting to know the culture of the city and by developing anappropriate strategy for commending Christ in this new context. Hisapproach provides us with guidelines as we seek to relateappropriately to the culture and context of our own time.

  • Paul takes time to understand the belief systems of those wholive in that place. He speaks to the residents of Athens tellingthem that "I went through the city and looked carefully at theobjects of your worship" (v. 23).


  • Paul is willing to quote from the writings of the Greeks' ownculture (v. 28) as he seeks to enter into dialogue with those towhom he speaks - quoting from their own poets as he builds bridgesfor his argument.


  • Paul finds appropriate ways of linking their beliefs with hisown as he uses the inscription on the altar "To an unknown god" (v.23) as the introduction to his proclamation of the one who is "Lordof heaven and earth" (v. 24).


  • Paul understands that he needs to start on common ground and sobegins his discussion by speaking of the plan and purpose of theGod of creation (vv. 24-27). Only later will he move on to speakabout Jesus (v. 31).

When 'commending Christ' today, Paul's actions offer ushelpful insights. We are challenged to take time and to "lookcarefully" (v. 23) so that we understand the views of others, to bewilling to use our understanding of different beliefs andvalue-systems to develop the discussion and to find ways of movingthe conversation on to speak of Christ.

Of course, not all such conversations will be life-changingfor others. Paul's address led to three different responses: somescoffed; some asked to continue the conversation at a later date;others became believers. Our faith-sharing conversations today mayresult in a similarly wide range of responses.


To Ponder

Take time to begin to "look carefully" at theculture, beliefs and value systems of those whom you meet today.What bridges for shared conversation might there be?

When you speak of your faith to others, how doyou cope with the 'scoffers'?

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