Daily Lesson for Friday 8th of December 2023
One of the primary takeaways from the story of Paul’s experience at the Areopagus is its on-the-ground study of how to approach an unreached group of unbelievers, which resulted in a small group of believers starting in Athens.
“The words of the apostle, and the description of his attitude and surroundings, as traced by the pen of inspiration, were to be handed down to all coming generations, bearing witness of his unshaken confidence, his courage in loneliness and adversity, and the victory he gained for Christianity in the very heart of paganism.
“Paul’s words contain a treasure of knowledge for the church. He was in a position where he might easily have said that which would have irritated his proud listeners and brought himself into difficulty. Had his oration been a direct attack upon their gods and the great men of the city, he would have been in danger of meeting the fate of Socrates. But with a tact born of divine love, he carefully drew their minds away from heathen deities, by revealing to them the true God, who was to them unknown.”—Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 240, 241.
By his direct contact with the people, a study of their culture and religion, and his respect for their devotion to spiritual things, Paul managed something notable in Athens—something that is a treasure of knowledge for the church. He avoided irritating his listeners. This was in and of itself a major, God-inspired accomplishment. This, according to Ellen G. White, is the treasure of knowledge that we as a church need to pay attention to in this story.
With the story of Paul in Athens as a model, what is the first step for anyone beginning new evangelistic work in a city?
What sort of behavior is required of a Christian to build bridges with people in the city (and frankly, anywhere else) who do not know God?
When we are provoked by the modern types of idols, what should we avoid doing, especially right at first, in starting new work among the people who worship those idols?
Paul could have stopped with just introducing the people to this God who loved them, and they would have been quite pleased. But then he crossed a line that made people think he was deluded when he brought in the Resurrection. Should he have done that? Why, or why not?
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