What if someone were to ask you what this “Christian stuff” is all about? How do you answer someone who doesn’t get what Christianity is? They see you come to church, maybe see that you are nice person, see how you react to difficulty…and now they want to know what it is all about. What do you say? It can be difficult because when posed with the question, we tend to stumble. We can always go back to the standard – Jesus loves you. But that doesn’t completely answer the question. We could give them the pastor’s phone number and ask them to call him or her. Maybe the pastor can answer better. But, better yet…maybe we should all be prepared to answer. We see in the New Testament that Paul was faced with a similar type of situation. Acts 17:16-21
First, we see that Paul was in Athens and he noticed that there were many idols…and that these people had time on their hands…
Paul wasn’t afraid – he was confident in what he knew. He debated with them and they must have heard what He was saying because they wanted to know what it all meant (it was new for them which they lived to hear new things).
Paul had several things to say…Acts 17:22-34
What did Paul say? I have selected five main themes that I think will help us as we uncover what Paul said to those in Athens:
1 – Paul looked around and observed his surroundings – he met them where they were – looked at the altar “To the Unknown God”. He knew they spent much time worshipping these gods – so he wanted to tell them about the One True God. He didn’t insult them, but started with what they knew. As he looked at the altar of the Unknown God, Paul went on to explain who this God was that they didn’t know.
2 – He explained the difference in the God he served and their gods(verses 24-25) – Creator God, isn’t reliant on humans to help Him, gives life and breath to all things. Their idols would be have been quite dependent on them and would not be considered creators.
3 – Shared how this Creator God is also a personal God (verse 26-28) – God created man that can seek Him, find Him and have hope in Him and He is not far from each of us – our life is found in Him. It isn’t that God is one sitting high and mighty in heaven and doesn’t care about us or want to have a relationship with us. This is also something quite different than they were use to. They were not use to a personal relationship with their gods.
4 – Since we are God’s and we were formed by God, we shouldn’t think that God would be formed in gold or silver or stone or in an image that humans can come up with (verse 29). God doesn’t want any other gods before Him and he certainly isn’t competing with something made by humans.
5 – There was a time of ignorance, but that excuse isn’t good enough anymore – There will be a day of judgment where all would be held accountable for their actions and now there is a call to repentance because of Jesus Christ (verse 30-31)
Here is the kicker – Jesus is introduced – as judge and redeemer…this would either open their eyes if their hearts were ready or turn them away…
Because Paul was willing to stick up for what he believed and tell them what it meant to follow Jesus, there were some who became believers.
What would you say if someone asked you about the God you served?