October 07, 2021
My son, who is planting a church in a Northern Colorado city, intentionally took me for a walk through a sculpture garden recently that is located in a prominent spot in his large city. It was beautiful, convenient, and filled with people.
To my amazement, at every 30 yards or so, there was a stone statue. The whole garden was a prayer garden, and each statue was named. The farther we walked, the more I realized it was a garden designed to help you pray to ancestral spirits. This religion is called animism and is no different from the false religions we read of in the Scripture. Paul encountered this in Athens.
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. And also, some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, "What would this idle babbler wish to say?" Others, "He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,"—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. (Acts 17:16-18)
"His spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols." (vs. 16)
Do idols provoke you? Most of us are no longer disturbed. Like the frog in the kettle, we are comfortable with demons and idols all around us. They do not trouble our spirit anymore. They are our entertainment. But that does not mean they are not present.
A serious-minded believer stays in such union with the Father that he recognizes false gods and is provoked, not in a harsh, condemning way, but in a broken-hearted way. And this provocation drives them to action.
"So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present … he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection." (vs. 17-18)
Notice Paul's immediate responses.
His constant message was very clear and direct. It contained three primary points.
Some men joined him and believed. (vs. 34)
Some scoffed at him. Some persecuted him. But some believed, and it was for those and for God's reputation that he shared the gospel unceasingly.
Our task is no different. Is your spirit provoked by what is happening around you in our culture? What people are worshiping? The blatant attention we are giving false gods? Then you must lovingly, passionately, and unceasingly proclaim the truth about the one true God.
If you do, some will join you and believe.
Father, give us Your eyes to see what is really happening around us. Remind us that we are not wrestling against flesh and blood opponents, but spiritual wickedness in high places. And give us the courage to proclaim the good news found in our resurrected Lord.
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