September 15, 2014
Acts 16:11-15 (in context)
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate 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. Then 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? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)
He was greatly distressed.
Did you get that in today’s text?
It’s what I appreciate about Paul’s approach in Athens. Despite being “greatly distressed” he did not resort to outrage. The Gospel permits “great distress,” but it can rarely tolerate outrage, no matter how warranted. Anger will just not get it done.
A word of warning to Fox News fans. Megan Kelly may be right, but her outrage is contagious and if you aren’t careful, it will infect your witness for Christ.
Today’s world looks a lot more like Athens than Jerusalem. We have two choices. Unleash our outrage over the loss of Jerusalem or embrace the challenges and possibilities of Athens.
We will do great violence to people and a great disservice to the Church if we persist in a “take this country back” approach. America, or any other country for that matter, can only be “won” back by the Holy Love of God.
There’s a third choice: Lament the loss of Christian America. Whatever that once was is no more. Lament offers a healthy outlet for our outrage; the Presence of God. Remember the time Jesus said, “Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” I think this is in part what he was talking about.
We have a lot to be “greatly distressed” about, but great distress will never get it done. Creative Love can.
To lament the loss of “Jerusalem” enables us to get on with the business of winning “Athens.”
COME HOLY SPIRIT!
Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.