Midweek Moment: July 1, 2020
One of my favorite encounters in the New Testament is in Acts 17:16-34. Paul finds himself in Athen and starts in his comfort zone, reasoning with his fellow Jews in the synagogue. However, verse 17 suggests he is also talking with anyone who will listen in the market place as well. Eventually, one thing leads to another which lands Paul in the Areopagus, the place where roughly 100 of the most influential city council people, philosophers, and court officials would debate policy while both locals and foreigners would listen.
What is so influential to me in this account, is the way Paul then goes about navigating this huge moment to share the message of “Jesus and the resurrection.” Paul first uses one of the idols labeled “to the unknown God” as a jumping-off point to introduce the God he knows to them. Then, to drive his point home, he quotes Epimenides and Aratus, two of their own poets and philosophers to them. To put these strategies in different words, first Paul has obviously taken time to listen and read the common voices of the culture he has found himself in. Then, rather than trying to push the people of Athen’s towards the Jewish culture or Scriptures that point to Jesus, he finds creative ways to point to God using the Athenian culture. In the midst of all that is happening now with politics, Black Lives Matter, cultural religion debates, and more, we would be wise to adopt a posture as Paul did in Athens. For many of these conversations, we will find ourselves in uncomfortable positions, encountering thoughts, and perspectives we may not have heard before. Rather than pulling away, what would it look like to lean in; to deeply listen and ask questions that lead to greater understanding? More so, what would it do to our society as a whole if, instead of engaging in the discussions based on the disagreements we have, we creatively found ways to affirm the things we can agree upon; things that echo the teachings of Christ? Grace & Peace Jake