“Then they took him and brought him to a meeting…‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean’” Acts 17:19-20.
When Paul traveled to Athens he was met with a culture where the majority of the day ‘was spent doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.’ (Acts 17:21) You know the type of people… they check tarot cards…are guided by their daily horoscope…visit fortune tellers…follow new age philosophies. Some things never change across the divide of time, and searching for wisdom in all the wrong places is one of them. To say that Paul was bringing strange ideas to their ears is a great understatement. Athens was a city of anything goes where altars were erected everywhere so not one of their gods would be offended. They even erected an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD just to cover all bases. So when this newest teaching talked about the one and only God it must have blown their minds. They were a city of extravagance, worldly views and freedom to practice immorality.
I am saddened this morning to consider that over the past decade or two we have built our own Athens with the mantra anything goes. Our country has torn down altars of God…public prayer…words removed from statements of belief…God Himself. We have erected altars of self-indulgence…Scripture taken out of context to support our cravings…placing trust in things that are hollow and empty. We sometimes fail to share the strange ideas of the great commission with others fearing we will offend them, when really they are hungry for the message. The reality of people supporting anything and everything is the evidence that they are still searching for the One thing. What are these strange ideas that we are to not only share with others but follow ourselves?
The idea that we are here to serve others instead of ourselves. Christ’s teachings that when we place ourselves last we will become first. This strangeness in the kingdom of God includes that when we die daily to the flesh we will be resurrected daily into His spirit. Included is the idea that if one betrays us and offends us we offer ourselves in grace and forgiveness without a spirit of entitlement or bitterness. The strange ideas go on and on and live inside the 66 chapters of the only Book that has endured – the Holy Bible. We must not miss out on our spiritual opportunities in the short time God has assigned to us on earth. It is no coincidence where we live and who God has placed in our path to share the message. ‘…and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live’ Acts 17:26.
We must remember that if we do not recognize Him before people we will not be recognized before the Father. “If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels" Mark 8:38.