Sunday, May 27, 2012

Acts 17:32-34


Summary retelling of Acts 17:32-34

When some of the Athenians heard Paul talking about the resurrection of the dead, some mocked Paul.  Other people told Paul they were interested in hearing more.  Paul left that area of Athens – the Areopagus – having spoken rationally with them as they requested.  As Paul continued to live in Athens while preaching and teaching, some joined him and became disciples.  We are told about Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris among others.

Thoughts for Today
First Thought:
Some mocked.  As good of an evangelist as Paul was, he still had people mock him.  It is a reality.  There will always be people who are closed to the Gospel and there is nothing that we can do about it.  We should try as best as we can to not take it personally while focusing on the rest of the people who are interested in what we have to say.  The number of people that reject the message is of far less consequence than the number of people who are open to accepting it.

Do we tend to get more hung up on the rejection that comes from the world than focusing on the people who genuinely accept?  Why might this be true?  Does our genuine desire to make disciples have any impact on our taking rejection personally?

Second Thought:
There are some that followed Paul.  There are people who accepted Christ!  This is incredible news!  There are people who came to Paul and said, “We want to hear more about this!”  This is the lifeblood of the church.  This is the reason the Jesus Christ made the church.  Whether evangelism (telling people about God when they don’t know Him) or discipleship (taking people who do know God and helping them know Him better) this is what we should focus on and for which we should give glory to God.

Why do we often forget to give praise when we do see people’s lives changed?  Why is it so much easier to focus on the part of this reading where Paul is mocked while glossing over the fact that some came to hear more?

Third Thought:
We are given two specific examples of Athenians who came to Christ.  Dionysius was an Areopagite.  Remember that the Areopagus was the Athenian court that Paul had gone to speak.  Thus, we are told of Dionysius to tell us for sure that Paul’s speech in the Areopagus did concretely lead to at least one conversion.  We are also told of Damaris, primarily because she was a woman.  Again, we see Paul reaching out to the fringes.  Paul is quick to welcome women into the fold.  Paul is quick to welcome Gentiles who belonged to the city court.  One does not have to attain a certain pedigree to be accepted by Paul (or God, of course).

How cool is it that we seem to be developing this theme that Paul literally accepts anyone who will listen?  Is this a different perspective on Paul than you may have been taught in the past?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 18:1-4
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