Psalm 4-6 Acts 17:16-34
“While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens, he was troubled because he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Acts 17:16 NCV)
As Paul wandered about Athens, he was disturbed the religious nature of the city. He would describe it later by noting that the people were very religious. There were idols and pagan temples all around him as he walked through the city. That didn’t stop him from sharing the Good News, though. He shared the Good News of Jesus in the synagogues and in the marketplaces. He attracted the scorn and derision of the Epicurean and the Stoics, the Greek version of the Sadducees and the Pharisees, as he proclaimed the risen Christ. They couldn’t fathom God wanting to come to earth as a human being and then allowing Himself to be crucified before coming back to life. To the Greeks, the body was evil, and people wanted to get out of this body and into whatever lay ahead quickly. But Paul’s discontentment began as he walked around the city and saw that it was full of idols.
He wouldn’t have that problem in our day. We don’t have idols around our world, do we? According to Simon and Garfunkel, we have people bowing and praying to the neon gods we’ve made. Ancient Greece had temples to gods and goddesses where the worship involved sexual activity. We have bars that cater to those same desires. We worship ideas that are contrary to God’s ideals. We stick earplugs in so that we can listen to the words of the prophets and we often spend so much time looking at our “smart” phones that it would be easy to mistake us for searching for a word from God from the virtual temples known as “Twitter” or “Facebook.” We follow politicians, political parties, or political ideologies with such fervor that we’re willing to destroy old friendships over people thinking differently. It’s a good thing we don’t have idols in our time. Paul’s message on the streets of Athens and, later, in his defense of the Gospel at the Areopagus was simple. Jesus Christ was crucified for our sins. He died and was buried. He rose from the dead to bring us salvation. In the past God ignored that they didn’t understand Him, but now, God calls on all people to repent. I have no doubt that if Paul were to see our world today that his message would be the same. To all who would put anything before God: pleasure, wealth, ideology, or even false gods, the message from God is that we should repent, and we should come to Him through the forgiveness of sins that Jesus paid for. If we want our world to change, we must first get right with God and let Him change us into His image.
Lord, we live in evil times as people have turned away from You. Help me to be faithful to You. Help me to share Your love and forgiveness with people who are trapped in their sins.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved