Scripture: Acts 17:16-34
V22 – So Paul, standing in the midst of the Aeropagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious.”
There can be little question that during times of national crisis, religion for many people takes on a greater importance. In many of our lifetimes we can recall times like the attacks on 9/11 and now the current pandemic related to the Coronavirus and their impact on people’s consideration of life and death. Consequently, it leads then to a discussion of what happens after death. If you happen to have been having any conversations related to this, or perhaps you yourself are making the time to ponder these deep questions, I’d encourage you to read the entirety of the passage listed above.
Paul, during what some have said was the pinnacle of his missionary career, while visiting the city of Athens found himself in a discussion with some very refined, educated, and religious people. Following with tremendous consistency Paul sought to teach the Jews in the synagogue first and then the Gentiles (Greeks). If he had at all reversed this, there would have been little hope that the Jews would have listened to him. He then, in an uncompromising fashion spoke his message of truth and repentance in the Areopagus to this distinguished group of people. He was then afforded an opportunity to speak more about his views of which the Athenians were intrigued. Paul engaged the Athenians with respect and integrity. He began by commending that they were religious. (v 22) After he shared his views (the gospel message) with them, we are told that some believed, and some didn’t. Once again, this supports the fact that as born-again followers of Christ our responsibility is to present the message of the gospel, not to save the listener (as if we could).
It has been easy to become self-absorbed during this time of “stay home, stay safe” and to forget about others (even though so many of us are craving contact with other humans). When the restrictions are lifted here in Michigan don’t forget about something that Paul mentioned in this passage. Verse 26 points out how in control God really is. Not just that as humans we all have come from one man (Adam), which incidentally puts us all on an equal playing field, not elevating any one group over another. Furthermore, God has placed all in a specific time and a specific place of His choosing. Guess what friends, COVID-19 was in God’s plans for us. So, what are we going to do with that? With whatever restored liberties and freedoms we have on the other side of this, will you use them to engage people for the sake of the gospel? Will you engage them (socially distanced of course) with your views of life and death? Or will we continue to be satisfied as a religious group of people that are really only concerned with our own? If that is to be the case, we might as well stay at home and continue to watch live streamed church services and after the summer do school online. Our time is now, designed by God…may we honor this with our intentional choices and actions!