Reflections on life, marriage, and a young woman who is constantly learning how much there will always be to learn!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Soft Heart; Strong Mind

An addendum to my previous post:o)...

The Bible passage below is long, but it is such a helpful example of how Paul approached non-believers with the things of God. A few things I notice right off the bat:

  • Paul shares his message using cultural reference points
  • He uses reason (v.17)
  • He makes a clear distinction between men (including himself) and God; he makes clear that he is proclaiming God's message, not his own opinions
  • He is sharing this message not because it benefits him, but because he wants to help others to know the grace that he knows.
  • Paul is kind and helpful in his approach. He doesn't attack the Athenians, but engages them.
  • Even with all that, there were still those who "sneered" (v.32). Paul did not let the sneers of man keep him from sharing. The Bible states that there will always be those who think that followers of Christ are foolish. Paul was less concerned about what people would think of him, than he was about trying to give the message of hope to those listeners with hearts soft to God's touch.

16While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, "What is this babbler trying to say?" Others remarked, "He seems to be advocating foreign gods." They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean." 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: "Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

24"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. 25And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'

29"Therefore since we are God's offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stoneā€”an image made by man's design and skill. 30In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31For 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 all men by raising him from the dead."

32When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, "We want to hear you again on this subject."


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